House Bill 311

151st General Assembly (Present)

Bill Progress

Passed 6/22/22
Ready for Governor for action

Bill Details

This Act clarifies the scope and protections for individuals with disabilities under the Delaware Equal Accommodations Law (DEAL) and further aligns definitions and scope of DEAL with federal law protecting individuals with disabilities from discrimination by places of public accommodation, including the Americans with Disabilities Act. This Act is consistent with the Superior Court's decision in Ray v. State Human Rels. Comm'n, 2021 Del. Super. LEXIS 668, which held that "[a]ny interpretation to suggest the legislature made a choice to narrow DEAL's protection ignores both the express mandates and comprehensive guidance under DEAL. It takes away the right of a protected class member to be heard. As interpreted, Delaware law would need to reject what has been universally accepted." This alignment with federal law includes all of the following: 1. Using the same terms and definitions for those terms. 2. Clarifying that places of public accommodation must make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, and procedures, sometimes referred to as “reasonable accommodations”, unless doing so would fundamentally alter the program, business, or service. 3. Clarifying that a public accommodation must provide auxiliary aids and services, unless doing so would fundamentally alter the program, business, or service or be an undue burden. 4. Clarifying that places of public accommodation must remove physical barriers if doing so is readily achievable. 5. Clarifying that state investigations of complaints must apply the requirements under state law in a manner consistent with equivalent requirements under federal laws. This Act also does all of the following 1. Clarifies that an individual does not have to use the exact terms in DEAL to request a reasonable modification or auxiliary aids and services for the request to be covered by DEAL. 2. Extends the time to file a complaint under DEAL to 1 year. 3. Allows the Commission to waive the cost of transcript, upon application by a party. 4. Makes corresponding changes to the requirement under § 10006A of Title 29 that a public body allow a member with a disability to use electronic means of communication to attend a meeting because "reasonable modification" is the term now used under § 4504 of Title 6. The term "reasonable accommodation" is retained because that is the term used under state and federal law in employment contexts, which might apply to a member of public body. 5. Makes technical corrections to clarify existing law and conform existing law to the standards of the Delaware Legislative Drafting Manual.
Not Required
Takes effect upon being signed into law

Bill Text

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