The Illinois Human Rights Act affords all state residents certain rights and protections from discrimination. Included in the act are provisions against employment discrimination for various protected classes. Employees who feel they have suffered discrimination may file claims with the Illinois Department of Human Rights to investigate claims and hold wrongdoers accountable.
The list of protected classes under the Illinois Human Rights Act include:
- Sex (including sexual harassment);
- National origin;
- Military status;
- Order of protection status;
- Marital status;
- Sexual orientation (which includes gender-related identity);
- Pregnancy; and
- Physical and mental disability.
Discrimination charge process
Employees considering filing discrimination charges against their employers should understand there are important time deadlines that must be met or their claim may go unresolved. The time deadline for filing employment discrimination charges with the Illinois Department of Human Rights is 180 days from the alleged incident.
The discrimination charge process is as follows:
- Intake – the employee files his or her complaint with the Department of Human Resources, either in person or in writing.
- Mediation – An optional step to the process is mediation, but one that may allow for parties to bring the complaint to a more expedient resolution; otherwise an investigation of the charge takes place.
- Investigation – The case is assigned to an investigator who interviews both parties to uncover more details about the case. The investigator may recommend a settlement at some point to help resolve the case
- Findings and results – Once the investigation is completed, the investigator prepares a written report recommending whether or not there is “substantial evidence” of a violation of the act. Should substantial evidence exist, the employee may take his or her complaint before an administrative law judge at the Illinois Human Rights Commission
- Legal review – A public hearing is scheduled before an administrative law judge. Employees are legally required to have an attorney at this stage of the complaint
Do discrimination claims take long to resolve?
The Illinois Human Rights Act requires the Department of Human Rights conclude its proceedings within one year of the complaint being filed unless the investigation is extended in writing by both parties. While a year may seem like a long time to resolve a case, the law affords due process to both sides involved in an Illinois employment discrimination claim.
Illinois employment discrimination attorneys
If you feel you were discriminated at your workplace by your employer, contact the Illinois employment discrimination attorneys of Goldman & Ehrlich for a consultation about your case. Our office serves clients in Chicago and throughout the area, including in Cook County, Lake County, DuPage County, Will County, Kane County, and McHenry County.