The Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) works to effectively communicate its mission and services to all members of the public through a variety of mediums. It does so, in part, by engaging with members of the media to reach all communities across the state. This page serves as a central resource containing educational materials and frequently requested items.
The Public Information Officer (PIO) manages agency communications and serves as a spokesperson to the media. The PIO primarily responds to media inquiries, ranging from confirmation of charges filed with the agency to responding to general questions about departmental policy, statistics, rules and regulations, and the Human Rights Act. The position is also tasked with promoting the agency’s image statewide and publicizing agency activities through media connections, press releases, social media, and web presence.
Reach out to the IDHR Public Information Officer should you have any questions or need further assistance.
Latest Press Releases
- 10/21/2021 - IDHR OBSERVES NATIONAL BULLYING PREVENTION MONTH, SPIRIT DAY
- 10/7/2021 - STATE HONORS LEADERS DURING NATIONAL DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT AWARENESS MONTH
- 08/16/2021 - VICTORY FOR TRANSGENDER ILLINOISANS
- 03/23/2021 - Gov. Pritzker Signs Equity-Centric Legislation Expanding Economic Access and Opportunity Across Illinois
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James (Jim) Bennett, Director of the Illinois Department of Human Rights.
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Director Bennett was appointed Illinois Department of Human Rights Director (IDHR) by Governor JB Pritzker in January 2019. As Director, he is responsible for overseeing the agency's primary goals to prohibit discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, citizenship status, age, marital status, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, military service or unfavorable discharge in connection with employment opportunities, housing and real estate transactions, access to financial credit and the availability of public services and public accommodations. In addition, the IDHR oversees charges of sexual harassment.
Agency Overview and History
The Illinois Human Rights Act [775 ILCS 5] directs the activities of the Illinois Department of Human Rights and the Illinois Human Rights Commission. The Director of the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“DHR”) reports to the Governor and sits on the Human Services Cabinet.
The Illinois Human Rights Act was introduced by the administration in 1979 to consolidate existing laws and administrative processes addressing civil rights in Illinois. The emergence of the new agency may be attributed to two events occurring during 1978. The first was the formation of a Cost Control Task Force that was charged with examining the structure of all state agencies to see how a more effective and efficient state government could be created. The second was the national convention of Operation PUSH, convened in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Bakke decision, where civil rights advocates called for a strengthening of civil rights laws in all the states.
Governor Thompson signed the bill, creating Public Act 81-1216, on December 6, 1979 at the Chicago Historical Society on the desk at which President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. The Governor then appointed a 95-member implementation task force headed by James Compton of the Chicago Urban Leaguer. The task force made plans to consolidate the personnel, rules, records and activities of the three agencies without disrupting ongoing operations. They also needed to develop the fourmillion-dollar budget for the new agency and get it approved. Most importantly, this group had the task of screening candidates for the positions of director of the Department of Human Rights and Commissioners for the Illinois Human Rights Commission and making recommendations to the Governor.
On June 19, 1980, the Governor named Joyce E. Tucker as the first director of the Illinois Department of Human Rights. She was the first African-American female to become a permanent head of a state cabinet department.
Popular IDHR Publications
2021 Legislative Updates
From economic and housing security to equal access in education, Illinoisans have experienced countless challenges in 2020 and 2021. The pandemic and the evolving fights for justice and equality have tested governments’ abilities to respond to the needs of the people they serve. Throughout this time, the Illinois Department of Human Rights has not stopped working to protect Illinoisans’ civil rights. This year, the Department is ushering in new and expanded protections in the Illinois Human Rights Act (Act) that help create a fairer Illinois.
View and download an overview of legislative updates that impacted IDHR in 2021.