Today’s news:

Liu, lawsuit charge discrimination against non-English speakers by city agency

Elected officials and immigrant rights advocates rallied at City Hall Tuesday to announce a lawsuit accusing the Human Services Administration of discrimination against persons who cannot communicate in English.

“Five years ago, Mayor Bloomberg proudly signed a landmark civil rights law ensuring equal access to all HRA services,” said Amy Taylor, language access project coordinator of Legal Services NYC.

“Today, despite a significant investment of taxpayer dollars, HRA is still routinely denying vital services to the most vulnerable New Yorkers in flagrant violation of the law.”

City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) said, “How backward we are in treatment of those whose English is insufficient? Long after many of the great cities around the world have long seen fit to treat everyone equally, we have people being turned away because of their lack of English proficiency.”

The suit was filed against HRA in New York state Supreme Court Tuesday on behalf of people who have been denied access to vital benefits such as food stamps and Medicaid solely because they cannot communicate in English.

The lawsuit says the violations have been widespread and in all five boroughs.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at or phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 136.

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