Any form of discrimination is abhorrent, but when it takes place in the workplace it is also illegal. The Illinois Human Rights Act prohibits employers from discriminating against their employees based on their religion, race, color, sex, ancestry, national origin, age, marital status, military status, disability or sexual orientation. However, despite the law, many employers fail to act appropriately and their employees must take action to ensure that their rights are not infringed upon. One of the most effective and common ways of taking action include filing a discrimination claim with the appropriate state or federal agency.
Where to file
In Illinois, discrimination claims are accepted by the Illinois Department of Human Rights and the federally run Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Filing a claim at both offices is unnecessary in certain situations because the two agencies share information and work together to process many claims. Filers can indicate that they would like their case to be cross-filed with the other agency to get both state and federal resources on their side.
Illinois employment law includes some provisions and protections that federal rules do not, including claims of sexual harassment, age and retaliation from some smaller employers that have between 1 and 14 employees. Therefore if a worker has a retaliation claim and their employer has 12 employees, the worker should file with the IDHR because federal law does not cover the claim. Additionally, if workers would like to pursue a claim under the Illinois Human Rights Act, they must file with the IDHR.
When to file
The statutes governing claims of discrimination include time limits on how long following an act of discrimination a person has to file a claim. All IDHR complaints must be filed no later than 180 days from the date of discrimination. Claims at the EEOC must be filed with 300 days in order for the agency to work on the employees behalf. As a general rule, all parties should file their claims as soon as possible following an incident. Not only is the information more likely to be fresh, accurate and easily recalled, it also makes filing the claim easier. Additionally, parties may have additional claims with shorter limitations on filing. In some cases, individuals who attempt to file claims on their own fail to include all of the necessary information, or make other mistakes that require time to catch and fix. If an individual waits until the last possible moment to make a claim, they may miss the opportunity to do so entirely.
Illinois discrimination claims are often complicated legal matters that see the best results with the help of an attorney. Those who believe they have experienced race discrimination or endured another type of discrimination should contact an employment law attorney for a review of their case.