Illinois Attorney General Logo

Office of the
Illinois Attorney General
Kwame Raoul

Illinois Attorney General Logo


June 21, 2023

ChicagoAttorney General Kwame Raoul today filed an amicus brief with the Illinois Supreme Court calling for an expanded interpretation of the Illinois Human Rights Act’s ban on discrimination in places of public accommodation. Raoul filed the brief in support of a teen hockey player who was banned from team workouts, practices, and games at a public ice arena after she disclosed her disability to her coach.

“As we approach Disability Pride Month in July, I am more committed than ever to enforcing the Illinois Human Rights Act to protect the right of all Illinois residents to access places of public accommodations without discrimination,” Raoul said. “I am committed to ensuring that all people in Illinois are entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the facilities, goods and services of any public place in their communities.”

The litigation in question involves a player on a hockey team that is part of the Team Illinois Hockey Club, which practiced and competed at an ice arena in Woodridge, Illinois. After developing depression and anxiety, the player disclosed her disabilities to Team Illinois – emphasizing that her health care providers agreed that playing hockey would benefit her health and wellness. As a result, the player was banned from participation in team activities. She was also prohibited from communicating with teammates and attending team functions, including those at the ice arena – despite the arena being open to the public.

Attorney General Raoul filed an amicus brief arguing the player has stated a straightforward case of disability discrimination under the Illinois Humans Right Act. Raoul argues in the brief that the act should be liberally interpreted as a broad and corrective statute that prevents discrimination. Raoul explained that in 2007, the Illinois General Assembly amended the act to expand the categories of places that qualify as places of public accommodation after court decisions limited the act’s reach. As a result, the Illinois residents with disabilities are guaranteed even greater protections than those provided by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

Raoul also pushed back on claims that the Human Rights Act’s protections should be constrained to physical spaces, and arguing nothing in the act limits the definition of a place of public accommodation to a physical space. Raoul stated that imposing a physical place limitation would significantly limit the rights of people with disabilities in Illinois to access digital and other non-physical spaces.

Raoul further explained the act does not exempt lessees, membership organizations or places with pre-screening requirements. If such exemptions were imposed, Raoul argued it would conflict with the act’s intent to provide expansive protections against discrimination.

Raoul’s Disability Rights Bureau protects and advances the interests of all people with disabilities in Illinois. Raoul enforces state and federal laws that protect the civil rights of people with disabilities in Illinois because people with disabilities are entitled, as a matter of law, to fair and equal opportunities in all aspects of society. Individuals who have disabilities and believe their rights have been violated can file complaints on the Attorney General office’s website.