Law Expands Time to File Discrimination Complaint, Expedites Time to File Civil Lawsuit

Authors: Brad Stewart, Matt Marcellis

September 18, 2018

Public Act 100-1066, which took effect on August 24, 2018, expands the time limit to file a discrimination complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR), among other changes it makes to the department’s practices and procedures. As a result of the new law, the time limit to file a discrimination complaint has been increased from 180 days to 300 days.

In addition to this increase, the law also makes a number of additional changes to the IDHR’s practices and procedures. First, complainants will now be allowed to opt out of the IDHR investigation and immediately commence an action in court. This opt-out period begins at the time a charge is filed with the IDHR and runs for 60 days. Second, the IDHR will now have time limits to issue a notice of dismissal after a complainant notifies the IDHR of the issuance of a right-to-sue letter by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Next, the IDHR may now dismiss charges of discrimination if an action in court or another administrative agency would preclude claims in the IDHR charge. Finally, if such a dismissal is made, the IDHR must give notice to the complainant(s) and allow for a challenge to the dismissal to be made in front of the Human Rights Commission (HRC).

This law also makes two changes to the HRC’s practices and procedures. First, all commissioners must now be either practicing attorneys or have a minimum of four years of professional experience working with individuals or corporations that have contact with the Human Rights Act or similar laws. Second, the law creates time limits for administrative law judges and the HRC to issue and publish decisions.

Municipalities should be cognizant of the increased time employees now have to file a discrimination complaint with the IDHR.

Brad Stewart