Witness Slips Needed! Illinois Civil Rights Action Alert


April 17, 2023 | by Amber Smock

If you live in Illinois, we need your help today!
Tomorrow at 2 pm Central, the Illinois Senate Judiciary Committee will consider HB 2248. HB 2248 is a critical Illinois civil rights bill that would restore the right to sue for compensation under Section 504 (disability), Title IX (sex), the Age Discrimination Act of 1975 (age), and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (race). Here’s the witness slip action link, but we urge you to read the background below. You can also check out our webpage on HB 2248

How to Fill Out the Witness Slip: Go to this link and fill out your name and contact info. If you represent an organization, please state that you are filing the slip for “Self.” Be sure to click “Proponent” (this means you support the bill) and then “Record of Appearance Only.” That’s it! You do not have to be a resident of Illinois to fill out a witness slip. Witness slips show the legislators that there is general support for the bill.

Learn About HB 2248: The Civil Rights Remedies Restoration ActRestoring the Disability and Title IX Rights Eliminated by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Cummings Decision

The Problem: Last year, in the case of Cummings v. Keller Premier Rehab P.L.L.C., 142 S. Ct. 1562 (2022), the U.S. Supreme Court made rights which people with disabilities have had for almost 50 years under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 largely unenforceable. Cummings eliminated the most common type of damages for civil rights violations which, although minimal in amount, allows enforcement of the law.

Although not the subject of the Cummings decision, the decision also limits:— Title IX’s prohibition against sex discrimination;— Age discrimination in the Age Discrimination Act of 1975; and— Race Discrimination under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

How Does Cummings Affect You Now? As a result of Cummings, for example, a medical provider can refuse to provide sign language interpretation to a Deaf patient even when evaluating life-threatening conditions. Another example is that a medical provider could fail to make their office accessible to patients who use wheelchairs or scooters without consequence.

Is There Federal Advocacy to Restore This Right? Advocates are pushing a similar legislative fix at the federal level, but there is limited chance of that effort’s success in this national political climate. This suggests the need for state-level leadership.

What Does HB 2248 Do?The bill text is at this link. HB 2248 clarifies that these civil rights statutes are enforceable in Illinois by spelling out that anyone injured by a violation of these statutes is entitled to compensation for their injury. HB 2248 restores the right of disabled people to bring claims for discrimination by federally funded entities, survivors to receive compensation for sexual harassment in an educational setting if administration is complicit with the harassment or for racial discrimination by any business that opens its doors to the public.

Help us take action by contacting your state representative at this easy email action linkPlease share with fellow Illinois disability community members. Let’s pass this out of committee and on to the full Illinois Senate!