Update: HB 2248 Signed into Law on June 30, 2023
On June 30, 2023, Governor Pritzker signed HB 2248 into law, ensuring that the rights fought for and won by Judy Heumann and dozens of activists during the 1977 HEW Sit-Ins will once again be protected in Illinois.
This is a tremendous victory for Access Living, and for the disability community here in Illinois.
Thank you to State Representative Cassidy and State Senator Peters for their tremendous support, and to the coalition of Illinois civil rights attorneys who came together to pursue the passage of this legislation. It is our hope that the language and ideas in the Civil Rights Remedies Restoration Act can be used as a model by advocates in other states who wish to pursue a similar effort.
The information below appeared on Access Living’s website during the first half of 2023 while active lobbying for HB 2248 was taking place.
In 2022, it became almost impossible to enforce Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. In the case Cummings v. Keller Premier Rehab P.L.L.C., the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated the ability to seek damages for civil rights violations. The ability to seek these damages, though minimal in amount, enforced Section 504 and protected the rights of people with disabilities.
The Cummings decision also limits Title IX’s prohibition against sex discrimination, age discrimination in the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, and racial discrimination under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,
Because of Cummings, there is no way to hold people or institutions accountable for violation Section 504. For example:
- A medical provider can refuse to provide sign language interpretation to a Deaf patient even when evaluating life-threatening conditions
- A Medicaid funded nursing home can refuse to make its activity area physically accessible.
- A Medicaid funded nursing home can ignore warnings that staff may be sexually harassing residents.
- A Medicaid funded residential facility can refuse to turn on captioning on video devices.
What this means…
As a result of Cummings there would be no consequences for these actions.
The Proposed Solution
HB 2248 – The Civil Rights Remedies Restoration Act
While there is a push for a legislative fix at the federal level, the chances of its success are limited. Consequently, Access Living sees a need for Illinois leadership and a method to protect the rights guaranteed by Section 504, Title IX, the Age Discrimination Act, and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, at the state level.
The Civil Rights Remedies Restoration Act is that method.
As a bill, HB 2248 does the following:
- Clarifies that these civil rights statues are enforceable in Illinois
- Designates that anyone injured by a violations of these statues is entitle to compensation for their injury
- Restores the right of disabled people to to bring discrimination claims by federally-funded entities
- If the administration of an educational setting is found to be complicit in alleged sexual harassment claims, the bill restores the right of survivors of that harassment to receive compensation
- Restores the right to receive compensation for racial discrimination by any business open to the public
Be a Part of the Solution.
Contact your state representatives and ask them to support HB 2248, The Civil Rights Restoration Act, today.