CREEC Announces Executive Director Search

Amy Robertson and Tim Fox, Co-founders of CREEC, sent the following letter to the CREEC community on October 14, 2020 Dear CREEC Friends – We are very excited to tell you that CREEC will soon be hiring our replacement!  CREEC has started the search for a new executive director, who will take over the position that we have co-held since we founded CREEC in 2013. Here is a link to the job posting: https://creeclaw.org/creec-is-hiring-an-executive-director/ We started CREEC to continue litigating impact civil rights cases, and to expand the educational work we did not have the bandwidth for as a private law firm. Since then, CREEC has grown significantly, adding the Immigration Detention Accountability Project and formalizing our disability rights work into the Accessibility Project.  We are confident in and enthusiastic about CREEC’s strength as an organization, and believe that this is the right time – for the organization and for the two of us personally – to hire a new executive director to lead CREEC forward. This transition permits us to do what we love the most: litigate civil rights cases and educate about civil rights and CREEC’s work.  After the new ED is in place, Tim will be CREEC’s Litigation Director, while Amy will take on the august title of Senior Counsel. We appreciate your interest in and support for CREEC. All best, Tim and...

Welcome to the Board of Directors, Steve Dane!

We are honored to welcome civil rights leader in the fair housing, mortgage lending, and insurance discrimination world, Stephen M. Dane, as the newest member of CREEC’s Board of Directors. Steve has litigated a number of significant lending and insurance discrimination cases. He was lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the class action litigation Toledo Fair Housing Center v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. ($5.35 million settlement) and was co-counsel for the plaintiffs in HOME of Richmond v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. ($100.5 million jury verdict). Steve has testified before both houses of Congress on mortgage lending discrimination issues, and is the author of many articles in the field, including Eliminating the Labyrinth: A Proposal to Simplify Federal Mortgage Lending Discrimination Laws, 26 U. Mich. J. L. Ref. 527 (1993); Disparate Impact Analysis in the Mortgage Lending Context, 115 Banking L.J. 900(1998); Application of the Federal Fair Housing Act to Homeowners Insurance, Chapter Two of Insurance Redlining (G. Squires, ed., 1997); The Exposure of Securitization Trustees to Liability Under the Federal Fair Housing Act for Poorly Maintained Real Estate Owned Properties, Banking L. J. (Feb. 2014), at 153-164. Steve has also litigated several accessible design and construction cases, such as National Fair Housing Alliance, Inc. v. A.G. Spanos Companies, 542 F. Supp. 2d 1054 (N.D.Cal. 2008) (involving 82 multi-family projects constructed around the country since 1991; settlement valued at $15 million), and claims involving local and state governments’ failures to “affirmatively further fair housing” as a condition of their receipt of federal funding. See United States of America ex rel. Anti-Discrimination Center of Metro New York, Inc. v. Westchester County,...

Tennessee Launches New Accessible Absentee Voting Process

July 21, 2020 NASHVILLE, TN — The State of Tennessee has begun offering accessible absentee ballots for people with print disabilities in response to a demand by Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) in collaboration with the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center and National Federation of the Blind of Tennessee. The recent expansion of absentee voting during the COVID-19 pandemic is offering many a pathway to exercise their right to vote without risking exposure to the virus. However, until now absentee voting in Tennessee has not been accessible to voters with print disabilities due to the use of paper ballots. A print disability interferes with the ability to effectively read, write, or use print materials and includes blindness, low vision, and some physical disabilities such as paralysis. The new accessible absentee ballot process allows voters with print disabilities to use supporting technology like screen readers and others to complete absentee voting forms. “This month we celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The State’s decision is a timely reminder that it is possible to ensure that public services are available for all,” says Brian Keller, DRT Public Policy and Voting Attorney. This new offering by Tennessee ensures that people with print disabilities will be able to exercise their right to vote independently and privately while voting absentee, not only during the current crisis, but in future elections as well. “We are pleased that the state moved swiftly to secure the rights of blind voters without the need for litigation,” said Terry Smith, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Tennessee. “Equal access to voting...

Complaint Successfully Nudges Tennessee Forward

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Tenneseans with Disabilities Welcome State’s Improved Guidelines: Revisions Prohibit Discrimination in Healthcare Rationing June 26, 2020 NASHVILLE, TN  – Tennessee has issued revised guidance prohibiting healthcare providers from discriminating against people with disabilities even when public health emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic necessitate rationing of scarce resources. In response to a complaint filed by disability rights advocates (View complaint), the Tennessee Department of Health and COVID-19 Unified Command have revised the “Guidance for the Ethical Allocation of Scarce Resources During a Community-Wide Public Health Emergency as Declared by the Governor of Tennessee.” The revised document replaces the prior version released in July 2016 (View revised document). The revised guidance has effectively put Tennessee health providers on notice: Tennesseans with disabilities must be treated equally in healthcare decisions including those made during the COVID-19 pandemic or other public health emergencies. The protections of the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) and similar laws are not curtailed during emergencies. “We appreciate Tennessee’s prompt response to our complaint and willingness to meet the needs of people with disabilities by addressing issues beyond those we initially raised,” said Brian Keller, Public Policy Attorney at Disability Rights Tennessee. Key revisions to the guidelines include: Removal of categorical exclusions based on disability in favor of individual assessments. An individual can no longer be excluded from treatment based solely on a diagnosed disability. Narrowing the scope of survivability assessments from one year to imminent survival. Requiring reasonable modifications when necessary due to disability. This includes modifications to survivability assessment tools. For example, a person’s speech disability may negatively impact these assessments even though she...

Advocates Take ICE Back to Court Requesting Enforcement of Previous Ruling to Protect People in Custody from COVID-19

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 25, 2020 Attorneys from national civil rights organizations seek to enforce earlier order to ensure the safety of thousands of people in detention RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Last night civil rights advocates filed a motion to enforce a preliminary injunction in the U.S. District Court for the Central Division of California, seeking to enforce U.S. District Judge Jesus Bernal’s recent order imposed on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Attorneys in the ongoing system-wide class action lawsuit Fraihat v ICE argue that ICE has flouted Judge Bernal’s order in three critical areas: failure to implement meaningful oversight measures; failure to review for release all people with COVID-19 risk factors; and failure to quickly and adequately update their detention standards to ensure the safety of medically vulnerable people in detention. In recent weeks, COVID-19 cases have continued to skyrocket in ICE detention centers across the country – a grim reality proving that the agency is knowingly putting people at risk in defiance of the Court’s order. By ICE’s own count, there were 124 people in their custody who tested positive for COVID-19 at the time of the April 20 order. Today, that number is close to 2,500. ICE continues to detain the majority of medically vulnerable people in their custody in unsafe conditions. Two individuals, Carlos Ernesto Escobar Mejia and Santiago Baten-Oxlaj, recently died of COVID-19 while in ICE custody – a tragic and senseless loss of life resulting from the agency’s decision to continue to detain them in dangerous conditions despite having broad discretion to release people. “Six weeks ago,...