What You Need to Know About the Illinois Human Rights Act

What You Need to Know About the Illinois Human Rights Act

A federal government agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, enforces federal employment discrimination law. A state agency, the Illinois Department of Human Rights, enforces 775 ILCS 5, the Illinois Human Rights Act. EEOC officials often have political agendas that dictate their decisions. Local officials at the IDHR are usually much more responsive to local people and their needs.

These two agencies also have some things in common. For example, they are both chronically underfunded. These limited resources mean investigators can only handle a few cases. So, if you make an employment discrimination complaint to the IDHR and the state refuses to take action, that refusal does not mean your claim is weak or meritless. Instead, this refusal is your ticket to speak with a Chicago employment discrimination lawyer and take your claim to the next level.

What Does the Illinois Human Rights Act Protect Against?

Much like the federal Civil Right Act, the Illinois Human Rights Act shields people in protected classes from job discrimination. These protected classes include:

  • Ethnicity,
  • Gender (including same-sex sexual harassment),
  • National origin,
  • Religion, and
  • Age (over 40).

Most job bias complaints involve one of these categories, which is why the CRA is so limited. The IHRA includes additional categories, such as military status, order of protection status, marital status, and military discharge status. 

Moreover, the IHRA does not only apply to employment discrimination. It also applies to people in protected classes who have issues with financial credit, education, public accommodations, and real estate transactions. 

Certain limited exceptions apply. For example, “senior living” apartments may ban people under a certain age, usually 55, as long as these apartment complexes meet strict legal requirements.

For various reasons, employment discrimination is common in Chicago. However, state IHRA prosecutions are rare. Because of the aforementioned limited resources, state prosecutors usually only take cases that involve huge damages or are “slam dunks.” If the case does not involve tens of millions of dollars in damages or the issues are complex, these victims must turn to a Chicago employment discrimination lawyer.

How Do I Win a Lawsuit?

All job bias actions, whether or not a state prosecutor handles them, start with a prima facie (preliminary) case. The plaintiff must prove membership in a protected class and adverse action. The aforementioned complexities often start here.

Membership is often a matter of perception. For example, if Frank’s boss thinks Frank is gay, then for employment discrimination purposes, Frank is gay, even if that is not true. Furthermore, the adverse action could be almost anything at almost any time. Failure to provide accommodations for disabled applicants is one illustration. Giving a woman a lower-paying “easy” job at a factory is another illustration.

A prima facie case is sufficient to obtain compensation unless the employer convinces jurors that the plaintiff wasn’t in a protected class or the adverse action was neutral. The plaintiff then has the last word and may show that the “neutral” reason was just a pretext for discrimination.

Compensation in a job discrimination case usually includes back pay and, if the plaintiff does not want their old job back, a reasonable amount of front pay. Other losses, such as moving expenses, are compensable as well.

Speak With a Tenacious Cook County Attorney

Job bias victims have legal options in Illinois. For a free consultation with an experienced Chicago employment discrimination lawyer, contact the Law Office of Mitchell A. Kline. We routinely handle matters throughout Chicagoland.