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Rediff.com  » News » Renee Lobo appointed human rights commisioner in New York

Renee Lobo appointed human rights commisioner in New York

April 07, 2009 03:43 IST

Community activist and TV journalist Renee Lobo has been appointed to the New York City Commission on Human Rights by Mayor Mike Bloomberg, ending a long void.

The commission fights discrimination in employment, housing,  public accommodation and bias related harassment. It has the authority to assess fines and obtain cash settlements for the violations of the city's Human Rights Law.

"Though the south Asians face discrimination in many areas few people fight against it. I want to change the situation and encourage those face discrimination to file complaints before the commission," Lobo said.

She said she is ready to work to resolve the problems faced by the community even if the commission is flooded with complaints. "I want to create more awareness in our community about discrimination and plans to reach out to people for this," she said.

With the appointment of Lobo and William J Hibsher, the number of commissioners has gone to 11. They are appointed to three-year terms and serve in non-salaried positions.

The commission enforces Title 8 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York, one of the most comprehensive civil rights laws in the nation, and encourages positive community relations.

They advise Patricia L Gatling, chair of the commission, on discrimination issues and review final decisions and orders on cases following trials.

It has the power to impose a civil penalty of up to $100,000 if it finds that the discrimination was the result of a willful or malicious act.

"New York City's strength is in our diversity because as New Yorkers we all live together, work together and pull through adversity together," Mayor Bloomberg said. "William and Renee bring a wealth of experience and unique perspectives that will enrich our diverse Commission."

"We are honored that these recognized leaders in their own communities are willing to serve such a noble cause and we fully intend to tap on their expertise," Patricia L Gatling, chair of the commission said.

Lobo has been a producer, broadcast journalist, investigative reporter, and anchor for International Television for nearly 15 years. She is an activist who has spent 20 years assisting new immigrants by providing access to services and programs, often highlighting the issues that most impact this group in the media. She had contested for New York City Council from Queens.

Lobo continues to be aggressively involved in a wide range of pro-bono activities. She is a member since 1997 in Queens District Attorney's Asian Advisory Council.  It focuses on drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, and hate crimes. She is also a graduate of New York City Citizen Police Academy.

She received several awards for her work as well as for her community service. The New York City Human Rights Law prohibits discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on race, color, creed, age, national origin, alienage or citizenship status, gender (including gender identity and sexual harassment), sexual orientation, disability, marital status, and partnership status. In addition, the Law affords protection against discrimination in employment based on arrest or conviction record and status as a victim of domestic violence, stalking and sex offenses. In housing, the Law affords additional protections based on lawful occupation, family status, and any lawful source of income. The City Human Rights Law also prohibits retaliation and bias-related harassment.