What You Need to Know About Filing an EEOC Complaint in Illinois

If an employee feels they are being discriminated against in the workplace, they qualify to file a complaint with the EEOC. Here’s everything you need to know about filing an EEOC complaint in Illinois.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a federal agency aimed to enforce civil rights laws against discrimination in the workplace. EEOC investigates complaints of job discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, disability, age (40 or older), or genetic information). The Illinois Department of Human Relations (IDHR) functions similarly to the EEOC, enforcing the Illinois Human Rights Act.

The Illinois Human Rights Act

The Illinois Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination in Illinois with respect to employment, financial credit, public accommodations, housing, and sexual harassment, as well as sexual harassment in education. The Act also prohibits sexual harassment in education, discrimination because of citizenship status and arrest record in employment as well as discrimination based on familial status in real estate transactions. The IDHR aims to assure all individuals within the State of Illinois are free from unlawful discrimination, and to promote equal opportunity and affirmative action as the state policy for all its residents.

Related: Illinois Right-to-Work Laws

Who Can File an Illinois EEOC Complaint

Anyone can file a formal job discrimination complaint with the EEOC whenever they believe they are being:
Treated unfairly on the job on the basis of their race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, disability, age (age 40 or older) or genetic information,
Harassed at work for any of the previously listed reasons,
Treated unfairly or harassed as a result of filing a complaint about job discrimination or assisting with a job discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

Time Limits for Filing an EEOC Complaint in Illinois

In order to have the EEOC investigate a job discrimination claim, the petitioner must adhere to strict time limits and deadlines. In some cases, a petitioner only has 180 days to report the discrimination to the EEOC. However, an employee has 300 days if their complaint is also covered by a state or local anti-discrimination law. Illinois has the IDHR to protect employees from discrimination in the workplace. Therefore, Illinois residents have 300 days to file with the EEOC in specific cases. However, employees should contact the EEOC as soon as possible for workplace discrimination claims. Contact the EEOC as soon as possible to assure the complaint is within the deadline.

Related: Access to Personnel Files in Illinois

The Process of Filing a Complaint in Illinois

The IDHR automatically cross-files eligible employment charges with the EEOC. During the cross-examination, the IDHR conducts the investigation for EEOC under the terms of the agencies’ Worksharing Agreement. For housing cases specifically, cases are cross-filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Before an investigation is completed, the Complainant in an employment charge may request a “Right to Sue Notice” from the EEOC; this authorizes the employee to file the case in federal court. If a Right to Sue Notice is requested, the employee should withdraw their case from the IDHR. If a complaint with the same issues as those filed with IDHR is filed in federal court and the employee did not withdraw the case from the IDHR, the IDHR will suspend the investigation.
Employees filing a discrimination complaint should consult an attorney before withdrawing the charge to determine if taking the case to federal court is the best course of action. The IDHR must have a neutral role in the case. Therefore, the IDHR representatives cannot give legal advice to Complainants or Respondents.

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If you or a loved one would like to learn more about File an EEOC Complaint Illinois, get your free consultation with one of our Employment Attorneys in Illinois today!