Illinois Human Rights Act Trumps Title VII On Sexual Harassment
In Illinois it is better to file a complaint of sexual harassment with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") rather than the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The reason is because the Illinois Supreme Court held that the plain language of section 2-102 (d) of the Illinois Human Rights Act imposes strict liability on employers for the hostile environment sexual harassment of employees by supervisory employees. The strict liability applies even if the supervisor has no authority to affect the terms and conditions of the employee's employment.
The Court held that it is not unfair to hold employers responsible for sexual harassment by supervisory employees because not only are supervisors the public face of the employer, but employers are in the best position to train supervisors and make them aware of the laws prohibiting sexual harassment. If you file a complaint with the EEOC, federal law will apply and you will be held to the standards of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It is a much better approach to file with the IDHR and have more employee friendly standards.