The fight for disability rights took a significant step forward in Illinois after Attorney General Kwame Raoul struck a deal with a big-time plasma collection company over discrimination claims. In a move hailed by advocates, CSL Plasma Inc. and its parent company CSL Behring LLC will change their tune on how they treat folks with disabilities as a result of Raoul's hammer coming down on their alleged ADA-violating practices.
A lawsuit filed in June 2020 by Raoul's office followed a series of complaints from residents who claimed they got the boot from CSL facilities when trying to donate plasma, purely due to their disabilities. One case, dating back to November 2018, involved a would-be donor in Rockford getting turned away because of her service animal. Another incident, in August 2019, saw a deaf individual pushed out the door in Montgomery after requesting an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter, which, staff claimed, went against company policy.
"Individuals with disabilities should not face discrimination from a business simply for requesting the reasonable accommodation to which they are entitled," Raoul stated, emphasizing a commitment to enforcing laws that protect Illinoisans against discrimination. According to details outlined in the settlement, CSL is set to update its policies, ensuring the inclusion of donors who are deaf, hard of hearing, or those who rely on service animals.
The settlement agreement also mandates the provision of auxiliary aids or qualified interpreters and the acceptance of service animals during the plasma donation process. Deputy Bureau Chief Elizabeth Morris, Senior Assistant Attorney General Gretchen Helfrich, and Assistant Attorney General Rebekah I. Newman worked the case for Raoul's Special Litigation Bureau, with Bureau Chief Judith Levitan and Senior Assistant Attorney General Neil Kelley fronting the charge for Raoul's Disability Rights Bureau.
For those seeking more information on disability rights or to file a complaint, Attorney General Raoul has pointed them to the Attorney General's website. He also encourages individuals with hearing or speech disabilities to reach out via the 711 relay service. This landmark settlement not only closes a contentious chapter for CSL Plasma Inc. but also reinforces the vigorous efforts of Raoul's office to safeguard the rights and dignity of all Illinois residents, disability or not.