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Frequently Asked Questions 

 

OTHER QUESTIONS ABOUT THE CHARGE PROCESS


  1. Can respondents retaliate against a person who files a charge?

  2. Is it possible that the processing and completion of a charge investigation may take longer than 365 days?

  3. What can I do if I do not agree with IDHR’s investigation findings?

  4. Under what circumstances can I take my case to court?

  5. Can IDHR provide legal advice to complainants or refer them to an attorney?

  6. My English proficiency is limited.  Does the Department provide any language assistance?

  7. Are there any places other than IDHR where I can file my charge of discrimination?

Can respondents retaliate against a person who files a charge?

Respondents are prohibited from retaliating against a person:

  • for filing a charge;
  • for opposing that which he or she reasonably and in good faith believes to be unlawful discrimination; and
  • for appearing as a witness to someone else's charge.

A person who experiences retaliation should contact the investigator immediately (or contact the Intake office if the charge has not yet been assigned to an investigator).  An additional retaliation charge may be filed with IDHR for each instance of retaliation that occurs.

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Is it possible that the processing and completion of an investigation of a charge may take longer than 365 days?

Yes.  Investigation of a charge may not be completed in 365 days under the following circumstances:

  • If an extension is signed by both parties and approved by IDHR during investigation of the charge.
  • If IDHR dismisses the case and the complainant files a request for review, the request for review time is not included in the 365-day period.
  • If the Department recommends a finding of substantial evidence after completing its investigation and a complaint is filed at the Illinois Human Rights Commission (HRC) or the circuit court of appropriate venue, the whole process including the public hearing process may take longer than 365 days.

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What can I do if I do not agree with IDHR’s investigation findings?

If a complainant or respondent does not agree with IDHR’s findings, within the time frame specified in the Act, the party may file a request for review with the Human Rights Commission.

A complainant may request a review by the Human Rights Commission if the charge was dismissed for lack of substantial evidence, failure to proceed, or lack of jurisdiction.  Alternatively, a complainant may commence a civil action in a state circuit court of appropriate venue within the time frame specified in the Act.

The respondent may file a request for review after issuance of a Notice of Default, for respondent’s failure to file a timely verified response or failure to attend a fact-finding conference.  Either party may appeal any final order of the Human Rights Commission or the circuit court to the appropriate appellate court.

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Under what circumstances can I take my case to court?

In order to preserve complainants’ federal rights, IDHR automatically cross-files eligible employment charges with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and conducts the investigation for EEOC under the terms of the agencies’ Work-Sharing Agreement.  Similarly, housing cases initiated at IDHR are cross-filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  A complainant in an employment charge may, at any time, request a “Right to Sue Notice” from the EEOC, which allows him/her to file the case in federal court.  If an employment charge with the same issues as those filed with IDHR is filed in federal court, IDHR will stay the investigation.

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Can IDHR provide legal advice to complainants or refer them to an attorney?

No.  IDHR is neutral to both parties.  In keeping with IDHR’s neutral role, IDHR representatives cannot give legal advice to Complainants or Respondents.

Complainants are advised to find their own attorneys, and may seek assistance through a local Bar Association.  IDHR maintains lists of legal aid associations and organizations that represent complainants in employment or housing cases.

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My English proficiency is limited.  Does IDHR provide any language assistance?

IDHR has bilingual staff to assist some non-English speaking clients.  Persons who speak limited English are encouraged to use an interpreter or a community-based organization for assistance in filing a charge or understanding IDHR’s charge process.  An interpreter may attend the fact-finding conference if needed.

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Are there any places other than IDHR where I can file my charge of discrimination?

Where you file a charge of discrimination depends on where the alleged violation occurred.

  • Within the City of Chicago, a charge may be filed with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations.
  • Within Cook County but outside the City of Chicago, a charge may be filed with the Cook County Human Rights Commission.
  • In downstate Illinois, check with the local municipality to see if it has an ordinance that covers employment, housing, or other discrimination issues.  There are also some private organizations that assist persons with discrimination issues.  For more information, visit the Illinois Municipal Human Relations Association (IMHRA) website and private organizations.

A housing discrimination charge may be also filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD, Chicago Regional Office).  However, because of the work-sharing agreement between IDHR and HUD, only one of these agencies will investigate the charge. Charges against a federal employer must be filed at the federal employer’s Equal Employment Office.

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