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Cummings v. Premier Rehab Keller PLLC: Implications and Avenues for Reform

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Summary and Purpose: This policy brief analyzes the holding and implications of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Cummings v. Premier Rehab Keller P.L.L.C. handed down in April 2022. The Cummings decision eliminated the ability of people who experience disability-based intentional discrimination to obtain emotional distress damages from public and private entities who receive federal financial assistance from the Federal Government under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 or Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. As a result of the decision, entities such as public and private colleges and universities, hospitals, group homes, physical therapist offices, and others who receive federal financial assistance, including federal grants, loans, or other forms of federal financial assistance will no longer need to remedy discrimination based on disability when the only harm of the discrimination results in anxiety, stress, depression, marital strain, humiliation, or other similar emotional pain.

NCD also reviewed state human and civil rights laws to determine if they had (1) a public accommodation section, and, if so, (2) whether disability was a protected class, and (3) whether emotional distress damages are allowed for prevailing complainants in administrative actions or plaintiffs in a civil action. That analysis is included as an appendix. NCD concludes the brief with recommendations for legislation and administrative action.

An official website of the National Council on Disability