Illinois Department of Human Rights

I practice before the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") in their Chicago and Springfield locations.  The IDHR is mandated by law--the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act") to conduct an investigation into various categories of discrimination in Illinois within 365 days.  The categories are listed in this website under Practice areas/ Employment Law.  You can see how many different categories there are and how broad a range they cover.  It is very important to determine which category you fall into and to file within the very strict time period. 

To file a complaint with the IDHR, the complaint must be filed within 180 days from the last date of discrimination.  You may go back as long as the discrimination has been going on as long as the last date of discrimination is within the 180 day period.  So for example, if you have been subjected to sexual harassment for two-years with the last date of harassment being January 1, 2011, you can file a complaint within 180 days of the January 1, 2011 date and claim discrimination from January 1, 2009 thru January 1, 2011. 

It isn't enough to file a complaint with the company, it must be filed with the IDHR within that time period.  Additionally, you can only file with the IDHR if your company has 15 or more employees--unless it is a sexual harassment complaint or complaint based on a disability then there only be one employee. Don't let the human resource department drag their feet and wait the 180 days before they issue their finding--in which case you could miss your filing deadline.

The investigation must be concluded within 365 days unless both parties agree to extend the time period.  At the conclusion of the investigation, the IDHR will either issue a finding of substantial evidence or lack of substantial evidence.  If a finding of substantial evidence is issued, the victim of discrimination may file a complaint directly with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") for a trial in front of an administrative law judge or the person may file in the circuit court where the discrimination took place.  So for example if the discrimination took place in Chicago, the person could file a complaint at the Daley Center at the Cook County Circuit Court. 

If there is a finding of lack of substantial evidence all is not lost.  You still have options and my office can help with either case.  It is very important to speak with an employment attorney early in the process to protect all of your rights and to ensure the best outcome.  My two offices handle all types of employment discrimination cases in Illinois and I have been able to negotiate very favorable settlements at all stages of litigation.  If you need an experienced employment attorney for your IDHR case, please contact my office at once for a free consultation.

Never go it alone with the IDHR.  Just having an attorney present can increase the settlement offer from the other side.  And my office never charges a fee up front as I only get paid if you do.  Don't go up against other attorneys and put yourself in a disadvantage.  Remember the company will many times have legal advice and you should too.

Remember that even if it looks like other employees will not testify on your behalf because they are afraid to lose their jobs don't get discouraged.  Many times these same employees will leave the company and down the road they will become witnesses for you.  Additionally, many times the person doing the discrimination will get fired by the company and will end up being a good witness for you because he is mad at the company for getting fired.  It is very important to let an experienced employment lawyer handle these matters for you.

I am at the Illinois Department of Human Rights every week and know many of the investigators because of the large number of cases I have there. This allows me to better understand the process and what each particular investigator may be looking for.  Just like judges, each investigator has their own way of conducting their operation within IDHR rules and outlines.  Let my experience pay off for you.

There are other issues that may arise as well during the investigators report of either substantial evidence or lack thereof.  There is a federal injunction against the IDHR called Cooper v. Salazar.  In short, the investigator cannot make a credibility of witness determination at the fact-finding conference or during the investigation.  So if there is conflicting evidence the IDHR must take the evidence in the light most favorable to the complaining party.  Conflicting evidence exists when there are statements of a person with material first hand knowledge contradicted by statements of a different person with material first hand knowledge.  Additionally, business records contradicted by oral statements of a person with material first hand knowledge.  And lastly, business records of one person contradicted by business records of another person.  I konw this stuff and let that knowledge work for you.
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