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Agency History

In 1945, Governor Thomas E. Dewey signed the Ives-Quinn Anti-Discrimination Bill, making New York the first state in the country to enact legislation prohibiting discrimination in employment based on race, creed, color, and national origin. In doing so, New York also became the first state to establish a permanent agency to enforce such legislation, the State Commission against Discrimination.

In 1968, the Ives-Quinn Anti-Discrimination Law was renamed the Human Rights Law, and the State Commission against Discrimination was renamed the New York State Division of Human Rights.

The Law has been expanded over the years so to stay current with the changing American culture and with the needs of New Yorkers. For example, in 1974, the Law was broadened to protect people with disabilities; in 1991, the Law was amended to protect families in the area of housing; in 1997, the Law was changed to include an express provision requiring reasonable accommodations in employment for persons with disabilities; in 2002, the Law was amended to protect both religious practices and religious observances; in 2003, the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act was passed so to include sexual orientation among the protected traits/characteristics; and in 2003, the Law was extended to encompass military status.