© 2024 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Don't rely on HR to protect your rights, NYS says

New York State Education Department

Discrimination issues haven't gone away, even in these COVID-19 days of remote work and school. That is why the New York State Division of Human Rights held an information session virtually Thursday evening.
As Albany has added protections in anti-discrimination laws and expanded the issues covered, things have grown more complicated. The DHR has been holding a series of informational sessions across the state via Zoom to talk about laws like the Dignity for All Students Act, or DASA, and the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, known as GENDA.

DASA protects students, particularly students who are different in sexual orientation or dress or many other categories. GENDA protects those who are transgender or who don't identify as binary, male or female.

Key to the state sessions is a series of fictional situations in which participants are asked to meet in breakout sections, study the facts and answer questions provided by the DHR. External Relations Director Ron Zacchi said it isn't just enforcing legal rights, it's also protecting against citizens being punished for exercising those rights.

"Disclosing information that you may have on the person that you received through certain types of applications or any way that you would have received information in disclosing that information, such as outing a person, could also be considered harassment," Zacchi said. "If the supervisor or someone at your place of employment or in any of the scenarios does something like fires you or something like because of making the claim, what DHR then provides is for you to make a secondary claim of retaliation and that claim will be investigated separately from the discrimination claim."

Participants were told they can't always rely on Human Resource departments to enforce state law.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
Related Content