Recent Amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act

Published November 15, 2018

On August 24, 2018, the Illinois legislature amended the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) allowing employees more time to file Charges of Discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) and to opt out of the IDHR investigation process and proceed directly to state court. See Public Act 100-1066.

 
Time to File Discrimination Charges Extended
 
Prior to this legislative amendment, employees pursuing Charges of Discrimination before the IDHR were required to file a Charge within 180 days of the alleged violation.  Now, charging parties are allowed 300 days to file a Charge. The 300-day deadline aligns with the filing deadline currently used by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for filing Charges under federal laws.
 

Direct Suit in Circuit Court

The amendments to the IHRA allow a charging party to bypass an IDHR investigation and commence a lawsuit in circuit court. Charging parties can “opt out of the investigation” by submitting a written request to the IDHR within 60 days. Opting out of an investigation obligates the IDHR to issue a notice to the charging party explaining the charging party’s right to file a lawsuit in circuit court within 90 days.

The IDHR will now dismiss a Charge when the charging party has initiated litigation based on the Charge. Prior to the amendments, the IDHR administratively closed the Charge.

The above amendments will likely increase the number of employees filing Charges with the IDHR, along with an increase in costly employment discrimination lawsuits in state circuit courts. If any questions arise regarding this legislative change or if assistance is needed with the defense of a Charge of Discrimination, please contact any Robbins Schwartz attorney.