In 2008, the Illinois legislature enacted a number of significant changes to the Illinois Human Rights Act. As a result, victims of discrimination or harassment at the hands of their employers may now seek redress in the courtrooms of Illinois. The Illinois Human Rights Act prohibits employers from discriminating against or harassing employees on the basis of race; national origin; gender; religion; physical disability; marital status or sexual orientation. Prior to 2008, employees were forced to litigate their claims before the Illinois Department of Human Rights, an administrative agency. Plaintiffs were only allowed to move forward with a lawsuit if a determination was made that "substantial evidence" of a violation had occurred, or a certain period of time had elapsed after the charge was filed with the Department. Even then, the matter continued on an administrative level.
With the 2008 amendments, an employee can now seek recovery in state court if his or her charge is dismissed or if the Department of Human Rights fails to timely complete their investigation. My firm has been retained in a number of discrimination matters in cases before the Illinois Department of Human Rights and in state court — with good results.
Please give me a call at my Chicago office if you feel your employer has discriminated against you or harassed you in violation of the law.