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Charge Process


The case moves to the investigation stage if the parties do not participate in mediation or if the mediation is unsuccessful. Complainants and Respondents have a responsibility to cooperate with IDHR's investigation. IDHR also has the power to subpoena relevant documents and persons. IDHR's role is to conduct a neutral investigation of the allegations in the charge. The investigator assigned to the case may contact and interview relevant witnesses and may obtain pertinent documents from both parties. Respondents are required to preserve any records pertinent to the charge. In addition, Respondents are prohibited from retaliating against any person because he/she has filed or has otherwise participated in the investigation of a charge. A person who believes he/she has been retaliated against may file a retaliation charge with IDHR.

Investigation: IDHR may require the Respondent to file a formal response to the charge with IDHR, or Respondent may voluntarily elect to file a formal response. If a formal response is filed, Respondent must send a copy of the formal response to the Complainant. The Complainant may choose to answer the formal response by sending a response to IDHR a copy to the Respondent. If IDHR notifies the Respondent that a formal response is required, failure to respond can result in a default finding against the Respondent. Once the case is assigned to an investigator, the investigator contacts both parties to discuss the case in more detail. The investigator will also ask both parties to consider a voluntary settlement that would resolve the matter.

Both parties may be required to attend a fact-finding conference, which is a face-to-face meeting conducted by an IDHR Investigator where the Complainant and representatives of the Respondent answer questions so the investigator can determine if there was a violation of the Human Rights Act. It is an investigative tool designed to secure either a thorough investigation or an early voluntary settlement. Each party presents its side of the dispute and responds to the opposing side. Failure to attend the fact-finding conference without a good reason can result in dismissal of the charge for Complainants or default for Respondents.

If a fact-finding conference is held, either party may bring legal counsel if the attorney has entered a "Notice of Appearance." However, attorneys have a role that is strictly advisory and they may not testify at the conference except on matters of which they have first-hand knowledge, nor may they ask direct questions of either party.

It is not required for either party to be represented by an attorney. The investigator will make sure that all parties have a full and fair opportunity to present their facts and evidence. Complainants not represented by legal counsel may bring a friend or relative to the conference for advice and moral support; however, that individual may testify only on matters of which he or she has first-hand knowledge relating to the charge.

In addition, the Complainant must bring an interpreter to the conference if needed. Witnesses may also participate in the fact-finding conference but they will be present at the discretion of the Investigator. The Investigator will question the parties and allow the Complainant and Respondent alternate opportunities to respond and/or rebut the other party's statements and to present documents or testimony in support of their own position.

The Investigator may identify and request further documentation necessary to investigate the charge. Both parties should answer the investigator's questions and provide as much relevant information as possible to assist in the investigation, including helping the investigator to locate pertinent documents and witnesses. The Investigator takes informal notes of the statements and responses. In accordance with the Illinois Department of Human Rights Regulations, these investigative notes are privileged and may not be given to either party. The conference is not a formal hearing and no stenographic transcript is produced by IDHR. No recording of the conference by either party is allowed.

Sometimes, the Investigator will not convene a fact-finding conference. However, the Investigator will attempt to gather the facts and evidence in separate contacts with the Respondent and Complainant via letter(s), phone, on-site interviews or by individual conferences. The Human Rights Act requires that IDHR conclude all proceedings and make a finding within 365 days of the perfected charge being filed. If necessary, the investigator will request that both parties sign an extension form to give IDHR more time to complete the investigation.

For charges filed before January 1, 2008, if IDHR does not make a finding by the 365th day (plus the number of days for extensions, if any, or any tolling period while a Request for Review is pending), the Complainant may file a complaint at the Human Rights Commission ("HRC") during the "window period" from the 366th day to the 395th day after filing a perfected charge.

For charges filed on or after January 1, 2008, if IDHR does not make a finding by the 365th day (plus the number of days for extensions, if any, or any tolling period while a Request for Review is pending), the Complainant has 90 days to file a complaint with HRC or to file a complaint in State circuit court.

Investigation Report: After completing the investigation, the investigator writes a report summarizing the information obtained and making a recommended finding based upon the relevant evidence. After approval, IDHR sends a copy of the report to both parties.

Case Status and File Review

For information about the status of a pending charge or to review a case file*, complete the online 'Contact IDHR' form and select EXISTING CHARGE/CASE, or call (312) 814-4320.

* Note: file review is only available if the investigation is not pending or active.