Raoul’s Lawsuit Alleged Discrimination Against Individuals with Disabilities
Chicago – Attorney General Kwame Raoul announced today his office reached a settlement with plasma collection company CSL Plasma Inc. (CSL) and its parent company, CSL Behring LLC, which resolves a lawsuit alleging the company’s policies discriminate against people with disabilities.
Attorney General Raoul filed the lawsuit in June of 2020 in response to complaints from Illinois residents who were prevented from donating plasma because of their disabilities. Raoul alleged CSL’s policies violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Illinois Human Rights Act.
“Individuals with disabilities should not face discrimination from a business simply for requesting the reasonable accommodation to which they are entitled,” Raoul said. “I will continue to enforce the Human Rights Act to ensure every Illinoisan with a disability has equal access to their communities and is protected against discrimination.”
Under the settlement agreement, CSL adopted the state of Illinois’ recommendations to update policies and procedures to allow individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or use service animals to provide plasma. In part, these updates will ensure individuals are provided effective means of communication, including access to auxiliary aids or qualified interpreters, and that donors can be accompanied by service animals during the donation process.
Raoul filed the lawsuit after initiating an investigation into a November 2018 complaint that a resident was unable to donate plasma at a CSL facility in Rockford. According to Raoul’s complaint, after the facility’s staff learned of the prospective donor’s service animal, she was told she did not meet donation criteria and was directed to return at a later date. When she returned the following day, she was told she could not provide plasma because she used a service animal.
Raoul’s office also received a complaint from another resident in August 2019 after CSL allegedly denied him access to effective communication. According to the complaint, the prospective donor is deaf and requested an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter while he was at a location in Montgomery. The individual left after CSL refused to provide an ASL interpreter but returned two weeks later and was informed by staff that providing ASL interpreters violated CSL policy.
Deputy Bureau Chief Elizabeth Morris, Senior Assistant Attorney General Gretchen Helfrich and Assistant Attorney General Rebekah I. Newman handled the case for Raoul’s Special Litigation Bureau. Bureau Chief Judith Levitan and Senior Assistant Attorney General Neil Kelley handled the case for Raoul’s Disability Rights Bureau.
Attorney General Raoul’s Disability Rights Bureau advances the interests of people with disabilities and enforces state and federal laws protecting the rights of people with disabilities by investigating complaints related to noncompliance, working to resolve violations and, when necessary, taking legal action against violators. In addition, the office provides technical assistance to individuals with disabilities and to public and private entities seeking to comply with disability rights laws.
For more information about disability rights laws or to file a complaint, Attorney General Raoul encourages people to visit the Attorney General’s website or call his Disability Rights Bureau in Chicago at 312-814-5684 or Springfield at 217-524-2660. Individuals with hearing or speech disabilities should call the 711 relay service.