Overview, Mission, and History

Overview of the Commission

Pursuant to Article 8 of the Illinois Human Rights Act, the Human Rights Commission consists of seven members — a Chair and six Commissioners — who are all appointed by the Governor, and a staff which includes an Executive Director who is appointed by the Governor, a General Counsel, a Deputy General Counsel, Assistant General Counsels, a Chief Administrative Law Judge, Administrative Law Judges, and administrative operations staff.

No more than four members from the same political party may sit on the Commission. The Commissioners represent the diversity of the State of Illinois in all of its facets, and must meet one of the following qualifications: (1) licensed to practice law in the State of Illinois; (2) have at least three years of experience as a hearing officer at the Human Rights Commission; (3) have at least four years of professional experience working for or dealing with individuals or corporations affected by the Act or similar laws in other jurisdictions.

Mission Statement

The Commission is dedicated to promoting freedom from unlawful discrimination as defined by the Illinois Human Rights Act. The Act forbids discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, age, order of protection status, marital status, physical or mental disability, military status, sexual orientation, gender identity, sexual harassment, familial status, citizenship status, pregnancy/accommodation, language restrictions, arrest record, or unfavorable discharge from military service in connection with employment, real estate transactions, access to financial credit, and the availability of public accommodations and education. The Act also protects against retaliation.

Our mission at the Commission is to provide a neutral forum for resolving complaints of discrimination filed under the Act. We are also responsible for, and obligated to, furnishing information to the public about the Act and the Commission. To fulfill our mission, we strive to provide professional, competent, and considerate service to everyone who seeks information from us or who has a case before the Commission.

Commission History

Classic Commission Photo
Photo of the original Human Rights Commission following the Illinois Human Rights Act’s passage in 1979

 

On December 6, 1979, then Governor James R. Thompson signed into law the Illinois Human Rights Act, 775 ILCS 5/1-101 et seq. (the “Act”). The Act created the broadest civil rights coverage for the people of Illinois in the history of the State. The Act created two separate administrative agencies with distinct functions regarding enforcement of the Act: the Illinois Department of Human Rights (the “Department”) to investigate charges of discrimination, and the Illinois Human Rights Commission (the “Commission”) to adjudicate complaints of civil rights violations, in the areas of housing, employment, public accommodations and financial credit. 

The Department and the Commission play different but equally important and vital roles in the enforcement of civil rights in the State of Illinois. Charges of discrimination may be brought to the Department by individuals, groups and/or in certain circumstances, the Director of the Department of Human Rights. Either the Department or the Complainant may file a Complaint of Civil Rights Violation with the Commission.

The Commission is a quasi-judicial agency and a neutral, impartial forum for the litigation of Complaints filed pursuant to the Act following the Department’s investigation of a charge of discrimination. Such complaints are adjudicated pursuant to Sections 8A-102 and 8B-102 of the Act.