Judge Recommends Fine Against Owner for Threatening to Report Tenant to ICE
An administrative judge recently ruled that a landlord had violated the city’s human rights law for threatening to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers on a tenant. The judge recommended she pay $17,000 in a fine and damages. New York’s Commission on Human Rights alleged that the landlord texted and emailed the tenant that she would call ICE if the tenant didn’t pay her rent.
The tenant testified that the threatening messages induced fear that she might be separated from her 23-year-old daughter, a U.S. citizen, and made her “an emotional wreck.” She had trouble sleeping, lost her appetite, and rarely left her apartment, she said in court. The tenant was in the United States on an expired tourist visa when she applied for residency last year. Under NYC law tenants are protected from discrimination based on perceived immigration status, as well as their actual status.
The recommendation from the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, which handles cases brought by city agencies, will be reviewed by the city’s commissioner on human rights. The commissioner will then issue a final decision and order, which can be appealed in state court.