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The Law and Your Responsibilities

The Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act") prohibits discrimination with respect to employment, financial credit, public accommodations and real estate transactions because of a person's race, color, religion, sex (including sexual harassment), national origin, ancestry, military status, age (40 and over), order of protection status, marital status, sexual orientation (including gender-related identity), unfavorable military discharge and physical and mental disability.  The Act also prohibits sexual harassment in education, discrimination because of citizenship status and arrest record in employment, and discrimination based on familial status in real estate transactions.

Employment:  The law protects persons from discrimination in all terms and conditions of employment, including hiring, selection, promotion, transfer, pay, tenure, discharge, and discipline.

Real Estate Transactions (Housing):  It is unlawful to discriminate in the sale or rental of residential or commercial property.  A few examples of such discrimination are: 

  • Altering the terms, conditions or privileges or the transaction.
  • Refusing to receive or transmit a bona fide offer.
  • Refusing to negotiate or grant mortgage loans.
  • Misrepresenting that property is not available for rental or sale.

Financial Credit:  All financial institutions doing business in Illinois are prohibited from discriminating in the granting of commercial or personal loans and credit cards.

Public Accommodations:  It is unlawful to discriminate in the full and equal enjoyment of facilities, goods and services by any place of public accommodation, such as a business, recreation, lodging, entertainment, or transportation facility.

Sexual Harassment in Education:  The law prohibits unwelcome advances of a sexual nature or requests for sexual favors of students by an executive, faculty member, administrative staff member, or teaching assistant in a public or private educational institution when such behavior interferes with the student’s performance; creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment; or is a term or condition of academic or extracurricular opportunities.  It is also unlawful for any educational institution to fail to take remedial action or appropriate disciplinary action against any representative employed by such institution when such institution is aware of the sexual harassment.  A charge of discrimination with IDHR may be filed against you or your organization, company or agency alleging: 

  1. you discriminated against a covered individual;
  2. the conduct was based on the individual’s status in one of the protected classes; and
  3. the conduct was in one of the five covered areas.

Charges must be filed with the Department of Human Rights no later than 300 days after the date the discrimination took place.  (Complainants are allowed one year to file charges of housing discrimination.)

What Happens When a Charge is Filed?

If a charge filed with the Department names you, your company or organization as a Respondent, a copy of the charge and an initial request for information will be served on the named Respondent via mail within 10 days of the date IDHR receives a perfected (notarized and dated) charge.  You will be required to provide a response to IDHR's questionnaire by the date indicated.  IDHR may also require you to file a formal response to the charge, or you may voluntarily elect to file a formal response.  If a formal response is filed, you 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 and a copy to you.  If IDHR notifies you that you are required to file a formal response, failure to respond can result in a default finding against you.

*For charges involving real estate transactions, see Articles 3, 7B and 8B of the Illinois Human Rights Act and/or the Fair Housing Brochure.