Ensuring Equal Protection Under the Law
Attorney General Lisa Madigan believes that every American deserves equal protection under the law. For that reason, she is committed to ending discrimination based upon race, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion and disability.
In July, 2009, Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a lawsuit against Wells Fargo & Co., alleging that one of the nation’s top mortgage lenders illegally discriminated against minority borrowers. And again, in June of 2010, Attorney General Madigan sued Countrywide for engaging in similar tactics.
The suits state that Wells Fargo and Countrywide disproportionately placed African-American and Hispanic borrowers into high-cost, subprime mortgages, while similarly qualified white borrowers received mortgages with more favorable terms. In other words, Wells Fargo and Countrywide illegally conducted “reverse redlining,” specifically targeting minority neighborhoods for abusive loans.
The lawsuits seek civil penalties against both Wells Fargo and Countrywide and a court order ending these activities.
Since the beginning of her political career, Attorney General Madigan has fought for the equal rights of all Illinoisans, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and actively supported the passage of Illinois’ Marriage Equality law.
As Attorney General, Lisa Madigan has continued the fight against discrimination at the federal level. Attorney General Madigan worked for the passage of the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Act to add sexual orientation, gender and gender identity to federal hate crime laws. In November 2009, Attorney General Madigan testified before a U.S. Senate committee in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or “ENDA,” and described the success of the Illinois Human Rights Act in prohibiting discrimination in employment based upon sexual orientation or gender identity. As the only elected official to testify, she was able to describe the importance of such laws in promoting tolerance and equality. To read a transcript of the testimony, click here.
As a State Senator, Lisa Madigan was a chief Senate co-sponsor of the amendment to the Illinois Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. When she was elected Attorney General, Lisa Madigan made sure that the policies within her own office were inclusive of domestic partnerships, as well.
Attorney General Madigan believes in the fundamental right of couples to be able to create their own families and have legal protections for themselves and their children. As Attorney General, Lisa Madigan will continue to promote tolerance, inclusion and equality for all individuals in our state.
People with Disabilities
Attorney General Lisa Madigan has actively sought to protect the rights of people with disabilities. She has aggressively investigated accessibility violations under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Environmental Barriers Act.
Accessing public buildings is often difficult for people with disabilities. Attorney General Lisa Madigan has used her office to hold retailers accountable for ensuring that their stores are handicap accessible. In 2005, Lisa Madigan’s Disability Rights Bureau secured a landmark consent decree requiring Walgreens to modify its more than 400 stores statewide to remove architectural barriers to bring them into compliance with state accessibility laws. Likewise, in 2007, Attorney General Madigan secured agreements with Applebees and Family Video, requiring both businesses to comply with state and federal accessibility laws and to pay a total of $230,000 in fines and penalties. In the case of Family Video, 93 additional stores are now accessible to individuals with disabilities in Illinois.
Attorney General Madigan also cited the City of Watseka for its inaccessible public spaces in 2008, resulting in the city’s $1.5 million investment to make its city hall, police station, fire station, library and public pool handicap accessible. The agreement also mandates that the city upgrade curb ramps to bring them into compliance with State and federal law. Similarly, when New Lenox constructed a senior center that lacked accessible spaces, Attorney General Madigan and her team took the city to court and forced it to update the space and pay the State $5,000 in fines. And, a major initiative between the Attorney General’s office and the City of Springfield will force the municipality to make its sidewalks more accessible.
As a result of Attorney General Madigan’s efforts, the State collected $100,000 in fines from the House of Blues and got the venue to provide wheelchair users full access to the facility. .
In 2009, when real estate developer Roszak defrauded individuals with disabilities by encouraging them to move into a building that didn’t have an accessible entrance, Attorney General Madigan took them to court and secured $25,000 in penalties and $250 in fines every day that the building was in violation.
In addition to her legal work, Attorney General Madigan provides resources and training to law enforcement to help them identify the best way to handle individuals with disabilities, like the hearing-impaired or those with autism.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan believes that the men and women who serve our country and their families need to be honored and not penalized for their sacrifices. Attorney General Madigan has used her office to educate current and former members of the military and their families about their rights and benefits under Illinois law. She has drafted and supported new laws that protect members of the military from job loss, has assisted them in filing claims for compensation and pension benefits and helped ensure that veterans’ medical needs are being met.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan understands that it is important to recognize the ultimate sacrifice made by the men and women serving our country, which is why she strengthened the Line of Duty Compensation Act by amending it to create an assistance program that ensures that the families of our military men and women who die in the line of duty gain efficient and effective access to information about pending compensation claims and receive the benefits to which they are entitled.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan is forever grateful for the sacrifices made by the men and women who serve our country, and is dedicated to working to guarantee that they receive full benefits for their active duty. For further assistance or information concerning veterans’ issues, please call the Attorney General’s Veteran’s Hotline at (1-800-382-3000).