- What is the State of Illinois Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Helpline and Website?
- What happens if I report sexual harassment or discrimination?
- What is the process for investigating a complaint of sexual harassment or discrimination at the Illinois Department of Human Rights?
- How long will it take if I file a charge with IDHR?
- How long will it take if IDHR finds substantial evidence of discrimination and I file a complaint with the Human Rights Commission or in Circuit Court?
- How do I know which inspector general’s office has jurisdiction over my government employer?
What is the State of Illinois Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Helpline and Website?
The State of Illinois Sexual Harassment and Discrimination (“SHD”) Helpline and Website were established pursuant to Public Acts 100-0554 (November 2017) and 100-0588 (June 2018) and are administered by the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”). Calls to the Helpline (877-236-7703) are answered by The Chicago Lighthouse pursuant to a contract with the IDHR.
The Helpline and Website were established by the Illinois legislature to provide a centralized resource for all Illinoisans to obtain necessary information and assistance in the filing of sexual harassment and discrimination complaints. Information provided to the SHD Helpline and Website is confidential and not subject to disclosure through the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”).
What happens if I report sexual harassment or discrimination?
Outcomes for victims who report sexual harassment or discrimination depend on what happened and where they report.
- Victims may be able to stop unwelcome sexual conduct by telling the harasser to stop.
- Reporting to the employer may result in training, sanctions, discipline and/or discharge for the perpetrator.
- Filing a charge at the Illinois Department of Human Rights could result in an investigation and a finding of substantial evidence. Through the Illinois Human Rights Commission or Circuit Court, a victim may receive make-whole damages, including emotional distress damages and attorney fees and costs.
- Public employees can also report sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct to the Office of Inspector General with jurisdiction over their agency. The Inspector General can investigate and the harasser/wrongdoer may be subject to a fine of up to $5,000, discipline/termination, and/or other remedial action.
- Criminal matters such as rape and assault can be addressed through the judicial/court systems.
What is the process for investigating a complaint of sexual harassment or discrimination at the Illinois Department of Human Rights?
The Illinois Department of Human Rights administers the Illinois Human Rights Act (“Act”), which prohibits sexual harassment and discrimination in Illinois with respect to employment, real estate transactions (housing), public accommodations (public places and officials), financial credit, and sexual harassment in education. A discrimination charge can be initiated by calling, writing or appearing in person at IDHR’s Chicago or Springfield office within 300 days of the date the alleged discrimination took place (180 days for harms prior to 6/8/2018). For housing discrimination, there is a one-year filing deadline.
For employment and housing charges, IDHR offers mediation services to provide an opportunity for the parties to resolve the allegations and related circumstances as quickly as possible, in lieu of an investigation. The charge may also be resolved during the investigation through a voluntary settlement agreement negotiated by the parties. A charge resolution may include policy changes, training, posting requirements, monetary damages, and more.
During the investigation, IDHR may obtain relevant documentation and speak with witnesses. After the investigation, IDHR prepares a written report with a recommendation on whether there is “substantial evidence” of a violation of the Act. Such a finding means there is enough evidence to take the case before an administrative law judge at the Illinois Human Rights Commission, a separate state agency that conducts public hearings.
How long will it take if I file a charge with IDHR?
The average processing time for a discrimination charge is less than one year. Under the Act, IDHR has up to 365 days to conduct an investigation, unless the parties agree to extend that time.
How long will it take if IDHR finds substantial evidence of discrimination and I file a complaint with the Human Rights Commission or in Circuit Court?
The adjudicatory process at the Human Rights Commission or in Circuit Court may take several years, unless the parties agree to resolve the complaint through a voluntary settlement.
How do I know which inspector general’s office has jurisdiction over my government employer?
- The Office of Executive Inspector General (OEIG) is authorized to investigate allegations of misconduct made against a State of Illinois official or employee who is under the jurisdiction of the governor, lieutenant governor, or a state public university, or a regional transit board (the RTA, CTA, Metra, or Pace), as well as others doing business with these entities. OEIG complaints may be filed at this online complaint link. More information about filing a complaint is available on the OEIG website or by contacting your agency’s Ethics Officer (to identify the Ethics Officer for a particular entity, see this list).
- The Office of the Legislative Inspector General (OLIG) receives and investigates complaints of violations of any law, rule, or regulation or abuse of authority or other forms of misconduct by members of the General Assembly and all state employees whose ultimate jurisdictional authority is a legislative leader, the Senate Operations Commission or the Joint Committee on Legislative Support Services. A form for filing a complaint with the OLIG is here.
- The Office of the Inspector General for the Illinois Attorney General is separate and independent from the Office of the Illinois Attorney General. The Inspector General investigates matters including misconduct and violations of the law involving individuals employed by or doing business with the Attorney General's Office. Complaints can be filed using this form.
- The Office of the Executive Inspector General of the Illinois Comptroller investigators matters involving employees, officials and vendors of the Office of the Illinois Comptroller. A complaint form for the Illinois Comptroller is available here.
- The Office of the Executive Inspector General for the Illinois State Treasurer acts as an independent agency of government whose function is to investigate fraud and abuse, including violations of the Ethics Act and other forms of misconduct by the Treasurer, the appointees and employees of the Office. A complaint form for the Illinois State Treasurer is available here.
- The Office of the Inspector General for the Secretary of State has the authority to investigate complaints concerning the operations of the Illinois Secretary of State's office or concerning compliance with the Lobbyist Registration Act. Information for filing a complaint is available here.
- For employees of municipalities and other local governments, each municipality or other local government entity is required to have a policy prohibiting sexual harassment. The policy should provide details on how an individual can report an allegation of sexual harassment, including options for making a confidential report to a supervisor, ethics officer, Inspector General, or the Illinois Department of Human Rights.