Tell Lawmakers: Co-Sponsor An Act to Create Access to Justice

Tell Massachusetts Lawmakers: Restore Civil Rights Protections and End Disparate Impact Discrimination

Civil rights laws are intended to ensure that all people, regardless of race, sex, disability, or any other protected characteristic, are free from discrimination and treated fairly by our government and private entities. Existing federal laws give people the tools to call out the most obvious intentional discrimination, but civil rights violations today are rarely as blatant as they were when these laws were first put into place. Today, the most pervasive injustices fall under “disparate impact” discrimination – seemingly neutral policies and actions that have a discriminatory impact in the real world.

Victims of civil rights abuses must be able to find redress in court. But federal case law and increasingly conservative federal courts have made addressing disparate impact discrimination nearly impossible.

An Act to Create Access to Justice (S.996/H.1792) would restore civil rights protections at the state level that were previously available under federal law, make legal remedies accessible, and protect all vulnerable groups. Check out this fact sheet to learn more.

We need to say loud and clear: disparate impact discrimination IS discrimination! This bill fills a gap in existing civil rights law by banning state agencies and other government entities from engaging in methods, policies, or practices that have a harmful disparate impact on members of a legally protected class, and by creating a private civil right of action that empowers victims of disparate impact discrimination to take legal action in defense of their civil rights.

For example, Massachusetts Appleseed recently released a full report detailing the failure of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) to provide federally mandated language access to limited English proficient parents. As a result, limited English proficient parents cannot meaningfully comprehend or participate in the agency’s process and consequently face an increased likelihood of separation from their children compared to their English-speaking counterparts. This bill would allow families denied language access to defend themselves in court and hold DCF accountable.

An Act to Create Access to Justice would allow victims of all kinds of disparate impact discrimination – from language-based discrimination, to housing discrimination, to environmental discrimination – to raise their voices through the courts and create real change.

We’ve already started a message for you – click “Start Writing” above to add your own details and urge your State Representative and Senator to co-sponsor S.996/H.1792. To get this legislation passed, we need to build strong support in the State House, and we can’t do that without you. If your legislators have already co-sponsored S.996/H.1792, please thank them for their support!

Thank you for standing with us!