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NYC Commission on Human Rights to Launch PSA to Combat Anti-Asian Discrimination

June 5th, 2020 Christopher Davis
Illustration by: LA Johnson

In response to increasing complaints of anti-Asian discrimination in New York, the New York City Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR) will launch a $100,000 public education campaign to raise awareness of incidents of bias and hostility that are related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. NYCCHR designed this two-month long campaign in consultation with various Asian American communities. The NYCCHR will use the WeChat app, a multipurpose social media platform, to reach out to Chinese communities while putting up ads in languages such as Vietnamese, Japanese, Arabic, and Spanish to provide resources to report acts of harassment and discrimination. These ads are reminders that help is available for anyone who has witnessed or experienced incidents of discrimination.

Spike in complaints of anti-Asian discrimination during COVID-19

Between February and May 2020, the Commission received a drastic increase in reports of anti-Asian harassment compared to the same period last year. More than 100 acts of discrimination in New York involved verbal abuse, vandalism of Asian-owned businesses, and physical assault. During this pandemic, doctors, nurses, and patients of Asian descent are also facing increasing harassment. In April, New York State received the most unemployment filings from Asian Americans, more than any other racial group. As Asian-owned businesses begin reporting a loss of customers during the pandemic, many Asian Americans are also losing their source of income.

Anti-Asian discrimination is not new to the US; waves of racism emerged with the passing of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII and the murder of Vincent Chin. In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, there was widespread fear and suspicion of Japanese spies in the West Coast. This misguided fear of the Japanese motivated the military to force 120,000 Japanese people into internment camps. Just as the Executive Branch suspected an entire ethnic group of helping the enemy, some people assume that a person has COVID-19 because they are of Asian descent. Discrimination related to COVID-19 highlights the misplaced fears that too many people have towards Asian Americans.

New York Law on Racial Discrimination in the Workplace

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal government prohibits employers (with at least 15 employees) from discriminating against job applicants and employees based on race. According to New York State and New York City Human Rights Law, employers with at least 4 employees are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race. Racial discrimination can occur when employers make decisions based on an employee or applicant’s race and not on their merit or performance.

Seek Help from a Lawyer Today

If you have experienced racial discrimination in the workplace, seek legal assistance today. The Working Solutions Law Firm, located in New York City, can assist you. Contact us today at (646) 430-7930 to schedule a free case evaluation and receive experienced legal counsel.