Illinois Human Rights Act

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What is the Illinois Human Rights Act? 

The Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) is a state law intended to protect Illinois citizens from instances of discrimination in various areas of life.  The Act makes discrimination illegal when it comes to certain matters involving employment, housing, finances, sexual harassment (in education settings), and public accommodations.

For instance, under the IHRA, employers may not discriminate against employees on the basis of their membership in categories such as religion, political affiliation, age, sex, race, and other characteristics.  This may be considered employment discrimination and can result in various legal penalties for the employer. 

How Can I File for Legal Relief Under the Illinois Human Rights Act?

If you believe you have a claim for employment discrimination or any other type of discrimination, you would need to file a “charge” with the Illinois Department of Human Rights.  The Department will review your claim and administer an investigation into your claim.  The Department will go through a series of steps to determine what type of legal action would be appropriate to remedy your situation.

For instance, the Department of Human Rights may suggest that you undergo optional mediation between you and your employer.  This may help the Department to uncover important facts that might prove your discrimination case.  You generally have 180 days to file your claim after the discrimination has occurred. 

How Long Does the Process Take to Complete?

For employment discrimination claims, the IHRA requires the Department of Human Rights to complete the review of your claims within 1 year (365 days) after you have successfully submitted your claim with them.  This means that your case will likely be resolved at least within one year, but not more than one year. 

If the IHRA fails to reach a determination after 1 year, you then have 30 days to file for a Legal Review (like an appeal) for your case.  If these still do not address your situation, you may then need to file a private lawsuit for your claim.  You may also need to inquire with a federal regulatory agency like the EEOC for other options. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With the Illinois Human Rights Act?

The IHRA is a broad law that covers many areas of employment law and other legal aspects.  You will generally need to hire a lawyer if you need assistance when filing a claim with the Illinois Department of Human Rights.  Your attorney can guide you through the process correctly, and will be able to provide legal representation during official state hearings.

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Last Modified: 04-05-2013 01:48 PM PDT

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