What is the Illinois Department of Human Rights?
The Illinois Department of Human Rights is the main state agency in Illinois that processes discrimination claims. One of its main tasks is to enforce the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA), which prohibits discrimination in the areas of:
- Employment and labor
- Fair housing and Public accommodations
The Department is entrusted with the authority to investigate, mediate, and resolve instances of discrimination that may cause losses for certain plaintiffs.
What Types of Legal Issues Does the Department Process?
Under the Illinois Human Rights Act, employment discrimination is illegal when it is based on a person’s race, religion, national origin, color, ancestry, marital status, age, and other categories.
The Illinois Department of Human Rights processes discrimination in the categories listed above. The Department is somewhat unique in that it also prohibits persons from aiding or abetting another person in a violation of the IHRA.
Lastly, the Department processes claims involving retaliation claims. Firing an employee for filing an IHRA claim is called “retaliatory discharge” and is prohibited.
What are Some Limitations of the Illinois Department of Human Rights?
The Department of Human Rights will NOT investigate:
• Claims where the employer has less than 15 employees (except for certain types of discrimination, such as sexual harassment, or other specific cases)
• Claims involving personality conflicts, political affiliations, and other unfair employment cases
• Claims involving unfair union practices, unless the claim specifically involves any of the discrimination categories listed under the Act
What if I Need to File a Claim?
Discrimination claims may be filed directly with the Department of Human Rights. You can also file in person if needed. In any case, you will need to present basic information related to your claim, such including a brief description of your situation, and why you believe that discrimination may be involved.
You should also be aware of any filing deadlines for your claim. Employment discrimination claims need to be filed within 180 days of the discrimination incident. Filing times may be different for other types of discrimination.
After filing, the Department will conduct an investigation to determine whether the discrimination actually occurred, and whether you are entitled to any legal recourse. If the investigation is unsatisfactory, it may be possible for you to file a lawsuit.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help Filing With the Illinois Department of Human Rights?
Civil rights violations like discrimination can often involve some challenging legal concepts. It is in your best interest to hire a qualified lawyer to represent you if you need to file a claim. Your employment lawyer can help you file your claim properly, and can provide you with expert representation during any hearings.