Sen. Robert Peters

SPRINGFIELD – To increase the baseline financial penalty for civil rights violations, State Senator Robert Peters championed a measure to create the Civil Rights Remedies Restoration Act.

“Business enterprises receiving federal funds should not be immune to the consequences of discriminating against people,” said Peters (D-Chicago). “Protecting businesses from punishment when they knowingly commit discriminatory acts goes against Illinois values.”

House Bill 2248 was created in response to the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Cummings v. Premier Rehab Keller, P.L.L.C. that ruled emotional distress damages are not recoverable in a private action under the anti-discrimination provisions of either the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 or the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The bill would allow state claims for violations of federal civil rights laws to be heard in any court with jurisdiction. It further provides that Illinois courts may award no less than $4,000 in damages or other relief for violations.

“Illinois has maintained the status of being a welcoming state for everyone,” Peters said. “The Civil Rights Remedies Restoration Act will serve as a source of relief for those seeking assistance for emotional distress due to discrimination. Considering previous court rulings that have prevented Illinois courts from intervening, this measure eliminates the red tape and allows victims to pursue financial justice.”

House Bill 2248 passed the Senate Wednesday.