Who Pays Attorney Fees At The Illinois Human Rights Commission?
A big question my Chicago offices gets is when a case gets filed at the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") for trial who pays the attorney fees. As you can imagine, attorney fees can get very expensive and most people can't afford them. My office takes cases before the IHRC on contingency fee only for the client. However, that doesn't mean that the losing party is off the hook for attorney fees. My offices hourly rate is $250 per hour and I always ask for attorney fees from the Respondent in the case. Attorney fees can easily run $30,000-$60,000 in an average hostile work environment case by the time the case goes to trial and the judge issues a decision.
There are many reasons for such high fees. First, the case starts at the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and that process takes over a year. Most cases especially those involving sexual harassment have email, text messages and other detailed information. Next, the parties usually try to settle and if not there is a good deal of discovery at the IHRC. Discovery is very expensive in both time to process the information and then at trial to prepare that information for the actual trial. The good news for Complainants is that most of the time plaintiffs don't have to pay for the attorney fees of Respondents even when they lose.