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Will The Illinois Department Of Human Rights Investigate My Discrimination Claim?

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Will The Illinois Department Of Human Rights Investigate My Discrimination Claim?

The Illinois Human Rights Act affords all state residents certain rights and protections from discrimination. Included in the act are provisions against employment discrimination for various protected classes. Employees who feel they have suffered discrimination may file claims with the Illinois Department of Human Rights to investigate claims and hold wrongdoers accountable.

The list of protected classes under the Illinois Human Rights Act include:

  • Race;
  • Color;
  • Religion;
  • Sex (including sexual harassment);
  • National origin;
  • Ancestry;
  • Military status;
  • Order of protection status;
  • Marital status;
  • Sexual orientation (which includes gender-related identity);
  • Pregnancy; and
  • Physical and mental disability.

Discrimination charge process

Employees considering filing discrimination charges against their employers should understand there are important time deadlines that must be met or their claim may go unresolved. The time deadline for filing employment discrimination charges with the Illinois Department of Human Rights is 180 days from the alleged incident.

The discrimination charge process is as follows:

  • Intake – the employee files his or her complaint with the Department of Human Resources, either in person or in writing.
  • Mediation – An optional step to the process is mediation, but one that may allow for parties to bring the complaint to a more expedient resolution; otherwise an investigation of the charge takes place.
  • Investigation – The case is assigned to an investigator who interviews both parties to uncover more details about the case. The investigator may recommend a settlement at some point to help resolve the case
  • Findings and results – Once the investigation is completed, the investigator prepares a written report recommending whether or not there is “substantial evidence” of a violation of the act. Should substantial evidence exist, the employee may take his or her complaint before an administrative law judge at the Illinois Human Rights Commission
  • Legal review – A public hearing is scheduled before an administrative law judge. Employees are legally required to have an attorney at this stage of the complaint

Do discrimination claims take long to resolve?

The Illinois Human Rights Act requires the Department of Human Rights conclude its proceedings within one year of the complaint being filed unless the investigation is extended in writing by both parties. While a year may seem like a long time to resolve a case, the law affords due process to both sides involved in an Illinois employment discrimination claim.

Illinois employment discrimination attorneys

If you feel you were discriminated at your workplace by your employer, contact the Illinois employment discrimination attorneys of Goldman & Ehrlich for a consultation about your case. Our office serves clients in Chicago and throughout the area, including in Cook County, Lake County, DuPage County, Will County, Kane County, and McHenry County.

What Is Alternative Dispute Resolution?

When issues between employers and employees arise, they do not always have to end in costly litigation or go through lengthy investigations. Often times, issues can be worked out between parties utilizing an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process and each side may come away feeling as though the resolution was amicable.

ADR can refer to any number of ways to settle disputes. This may include:

  • Early neutral evaluation
  • Negotiation
  • Conciliation
  • Mediation
  • Arbitration

Employers should consider implementing or utilizing some sort of ADR processes as a means to avoid common legal pitfalls such as financial costs and the time and energy necessary to litigate disputes. First and foremost, employers should be open to negotiation with their employee should a dispute such as discrimination and wage claims arise as many issues have the potential to be solved by sitting down with the other side.

Mediation

Where negotiation fails or is not possible, employers should consider entering into mediation with the employer raising the issue. Mediation involves parties coming together with a neutral arbitrator to hear both sides of an issue and make recommendations about how to resolve the situation.

Mediation recommendations are only recommendations, and are non-binding. It simply gets both sides together and gives them the opportunity to work things out before the matter becomes costly and time consuming.

Arbitration

If parties cannot come to an agreement through informal negotiation or mediation, they may choose arbitration as a means to resolve issues before jumping into litigation. Arbitration can be described as a simplified trial where both sides conduct discovery (gather evidence) and introduce evidence to a panel of neutral arbitrators.

Both sides may be represented by attorneys to help advocate for their position. Arbitration may be both binding and nonbinding and the process may take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending on the complexity of the issue.

Chicago mediation and arbitration attorneys

Illinois is one of many states that have adopted laws allowing both mediation and arbitration as a means to help parties in dispute come together and solve issues without the need to take up the court’s time. If you have a dispute with an employer or an employee, the Chicago mediation and arbitration attorneys of Goldman & Ehrlich can help.

Contact our office for a consultation about your case. Our attorneys serve clients throughout Chicago, Cook County, Lake County, DuPage County, Will County, Kane County, and McHenry County.

Can Illinois Civil Service Employees Challenge Termination and Discipline?

As a right to work state, employees in the private sector are under an “at will” employment policy and may be terminated from their job for any reason at anytime. Civil service employees, on the other hand, must be fired for cause and have the ability to appeal their termination or discipline with the Illinois Civil Service Commission.

Employees wishing to make appeals for termination or discipline must do so in writing within 15-days of the event taking place. Individuals who fail to meet these strict time deadlines may be barred from exercising their legal rights and having their appeal heard.

Appealing termination

An appeal for termination must meet several requirements, in addition to the 15-day time deadline. The appeal must list a statement of facts about the case and cite which provisions of the Personnel Code or Rules relating to termination were violated or have not been complied with.

After the commission received the appeal, an investigation will be performed to see if the case has merit. Should the commission believe a substantial issue of fact or law exists which cannot be resolved by investigation, and administrative law judge will be appointed to conduct a hearing.

At the hearing, an attorney may represent employees and call and cross examine witnesses as well as introduce evidence related to the case. Under the law, it is the employee’s burden of proof to prove his or her termination was wrongful. Once the hearing and investigation is completed, the commission will render its decision on the matter.

Appealing discipline

Civil service employees may appeal suspensions totaling 30-days in a 12 month period. The process for appealing disciplinary action is very similar to that of appealing a termination. Employees must prepare a statement of facts in their appeal and if the commission may appoint an administrative law judge to conduct a hearing where evidence may be introduced and witnesses called.

Illinois civil service employment attorneys

If you were disciplined or terminated from your state or local employer, contact Goldman & Ehrlich online or call 312.332.6733 for a consultation about your case. Our Illinois civil service employment attorneys have years of experience helping state and local employees appeal their layoffs and suspensions.

Our office services clients throughout Chicago, and all of Cook County, Lake County, DuPage County, Will County, Kane County, and McHenry County. Because strict time deadlines apply to filing these appeals, please contact us at your earliest convenience.