Case Details


Attorney General Authority To Investigate

Filing State



New York Supreme Court, Lake County




Pavillion Agency Inc. v. Spitzer, 802 N.Y.S.2d 879, 9 Misc. 3d 626 (N.Y.S., Lake County, 2005)


Attorney General may investigate potential violations of law without first filing complaint against defendants, and need not demonstrate probable casue or anything about the investigation.

Case Description

The Attorney General of New York was investigating allegations that employment agencies for domestic workers were assisting potential employers to discriminate against employees on the basis of race, national origin and/or marital status. The Attorney General’s office issued several subpoenas to the employment agencies. The agencies challenged the subpoenas on the grounds that the Attorney General had failed to comply with the requirement of the state’s Human Rights Law that a complaint be filed with the Human Rights Commission, which then serves the complaint upon the defendant and begins its investigation. The court held that the Attorney General has broad investigatory powers which he may freely use whenever an individual or entity appears to have engaged in illegal and/or fraudulent business activities and/or practices under New York law. “Once the Attorney General’s office suspects that . . . any . . . entities might be engaged in some kind of discriminatory employment practice which would be prohibited under State and Federal laws, the Attorney General is within its right to commence an investigation independent of the Division of Human Rights, and notwithstanding the procedures enumerated in [the Human Rights Act]. Moreover, once the Attorney General invoked its investigatory power, the presumption is that it did so in good faith, and was therefore not required to demonstrate probable cause or disclose the details of the pending investigation “