United States: Illinois Amends IHRA To Extend Filing Deadlines, Simplify Procedures, And Reduce Administrative Backlog

Last Updated: September 11 2018
Article by Kathryn Siegel

For years, Illinois employment lawyers have had the frustrating experience of trying to explain the quirks of Illinois Human Rights Act1 (IHRA) practice before the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) and Illinois Human Rights Commission (IHRC) to out-of-state clients and colleagues. For instance, the IDHR required a verified response, styled like an answer, to be submitted within 60 days, and did not permit extensions. It also maintained a 180-day charge-filing deadline, despite the fact that most charges in Illinois are cross-filed with the EEOC, which has a 300-day deadline, resulting in confusion as to timeliness. Cases lingered before the IHRC for years and the long-awaited decisions seemed, at times, insufficiently reasoned and just plain wrong. Illinois recently enacted legislation addressing these issues, which will hopefully make practice before these agencies quicker, smoother, and more in line with what practitioners and clients are used to from the EEOC and other state agencies.

What Are The Recent Amendments And What Do They Accomplish?

The Illinois legislature took several steps in the last year to bring about these crucial changes. Most recently, on August 24, 2018, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed Senate Bill 0020, which took effect immediately.2

Senate Bill 0020 extends the filing period for charges under the IHRA to 300 days. Prior to this amendment, charging parties were required to file a charge alleging a violation of the IHRA with the IDHR within 180 days of the alleged violation. This deadline was a source of confusion for complaining employees, as charges filed with the EEOC are timely so long as they are within 300 days. Further complicating matters, in Illinois, charges filed with the EEOC are cross-filed with the IDHR, sometimes resulting in the EEOC charge being timely, while the charge based on the same conduct was untimely before the IDHR. This change will alleviate the confusion, but likely will result in employers having to defend against charges at the IDHR that would previously have been dismissed as untimely.

Another source of frustration for employers and charging parties alike was that the EEOC permitted charging parties to request a right to sue at any point during the investigation, while the IHRA required the IDHR to complete its investigation, or a certain period of time to lapse, before a right-to-sue letter could be issued. Senate Bill 0020 changes this framework under the IHRA, so that charging parties who intend to litigate can bypass the IDHR investigation process and receive a right-to-sue letter more immediately, reducing administrative inefficiencies.

The new law also amends the section of the statute regarding how charges are handled if the charging party initiates litigation. That section now provides:

[I]f the charging party has initiated litigation for the purpose of seeking final relief in a State or federal court or before an administrative law judge or hearing officer in an administrative proceeding before a local government administrative agency, and if a final decision on the merits in that litigation or administrative hearing would preclude the charging party from bringing another action based on the pending charge, the Department shall cease its investigation and dismiss the pending charge by order of the Director.

Previously, the IDHR would issue a stay in such circumstances, rather than a dismissal.

Lastly, the amendment revises the structure of the IHRC, and makes additional changes that appear designed to address both the case backlog and concerns regarding the quality of decisions issued. The amendment reduces the number of commissioners from 13 to 7, and significantly raises their compensation from $20,000-22,500 a year to $119,000-125,000 per year. Commissioners are now required to devote full time to their duties and not engage in any other business, employment, or vocation. The amendment authorizes each Commissioner to hire and supervise a staff attorney, and implements a formalized training program designed to better train commissioners to understand the legal issues with which they will be presented. Perhaps most significantly, the amendment has addressed the lengthy backlog of cases currently awaiting review by creating a special three-member, temporary panel.

Additional Changes To The IHRA

Apart from the newly-enacted Senate Bill 0020, other amendments to the IHRA have improved IDHR practice. In September 2017, the Illinois legislature revised the IHRA3 to eliminate the "verified response" requirement for responding to a charge of discrimination from the IDHR. Employers were formerly obligated to submit a verified response within 60 days of receiving a charge, in which they had to admit or deny each allegation, similar to answering a complaint. This requirement was burdensome for employers, which were also required to submit a position statement and questionnaire response along with the verified response stating much of the same information. Now, employers no longer have to provide a verified response. The IDHR must make a request for response to start the 60-day clock for the position statement and questionnaire response deadline.

What Will These Changes Mean For Employers?

Taken as a whole, these amendments should make practice under the IHRA before these state agencies more efficient and less confusing. Employers should be aware that they may see an uptick in timely-filed charges under the IHRA, and, as a result, a potential increase in exposure.

Footnotes

1 775 ILCS 5/1-101 et seq.

2 Act of Aug. 24, 2018, Pub. Act 100-1066.

3 Act of Sept. 8, 2017, Pub. Act 100-0492.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Kathryn Siegel
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions