Articles Posted in Illinois Human Rights Commission

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Request To Review Illinois Department of Human Rights Cases

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So you filed a sexual harassment complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR“) in Chicago. The IDHR conducted an investigation and found lack of substantial evidence. What if anything can and should you do? Well upon getting the letter for the IDHR you can either file a lawsuit in the local circuit court or file a request to review with the Illinois Human Rights Commission (“IHRC“). If you file a lawsuit in the local circuit court, the case will proceed according to the local rules and the Illinois Supreme Court rules.

If you choose to file a request to review, a detailed account of the reason why will be filed with the IHRC. The IDHR will file their response and you will have a chance to file a sur-reply. It is important that you research the law to make sure you have solid legal argument in your review. A good employment lawyer can handle this for you. One would be better served going with a lawyer as he can write a better request for review and your chances or success should be better.

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Sexual Harassment And The Illinois Human Rights Commission

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So you filed a sexual harassment case and it is now ready to go before a Judge at the Illinois Human Rights Commission (“IHRC“). Is that the proper venue or should you file it somewhere else? Well, the short answer is, it depends on the facts of your case. The IHRC has advantages and disadvantages. First the advantages. It is free to file and the rules are a little different. This gives you an advantage if you have an experienced attorney and the other side doesn’t. However, cases at the IHRC take much longer than cases filed at the local circuit court. Also at the local circuit court, you can have a jury trial, which you can’t have at the IHRC.

As for as expense goes, I think the IHRC is as expensive or more expensive than the local circuit court. The main reason for this difference is after trial at the IHRC, you have to get a copy of the transcripts and draft a post trial brief. Then you have to ready the others sides brief and file a sur-reply. This is very time consuming and expensive. Even though there is no filing fee and you can’t take depositions, the post trial brief more than makes up for the cost. Before filing at the IHRC, one should weigh both options to see which is best.

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Sexual Harassment Case At The Illinois Human Rights Commission

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So you filed your sexual harassment case and it is now before an administrative law Judge at the Illinois Human Rights Commission (“IHRC“). What can you expect to happen now that the case is moving forward? Well the IHRC has its’ own set of rules governing how the case will proceed. Many lawyers are not familiar with the rules of the IHRC and that can be a huge disadvantage for them. Some of the discovery rules are the same at other venues and some of the rules aren’t. For example, at the IHRC you are not allowed to take any depositions without leave of the Court. And unless you can show a compelling reason for taking the deposition, you won’t be allowed to. It isn’t enough to just complain that you want to take a deposition. It is my experience, that you should file multiple sets of interrogatories and requests for documents and only then if more information is needed, can you ask for a deposition
Another issue that comes up at the IHRC is the number of interrogatories, requests to admits and requests for production of documents. In circuit court, you are limited by the Illinois Supreme Court rules. However, at the IHRC there is no limit on the number of requests you can make. It does make sense to not file frivolous requests and if you do the Judge may limit the number. The reason you can ask unlimited numbers of requests is because you can’t take depositions, so you need to get more information than you normally would from the written requests. If you are going to have a case at the IHRC, you should make sure you have an aggressive employment lawyer, who knows the rules and can guide your case from start to finish.

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Defending Cases At The Illinois Department of Human Rights

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So what are some of the things one should keep in mind when defending a case at the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR“)? Well for starters you should contact an employment lawyer who concentrates in employment cases before the IDHR. There is no real substitute for experience. Additionally, there will be different strategies depending on the type of discrimination. For example in sexual harassment and disability cases, there doesn’t have to be a minimum of 15 employees. Also in sexual harassment cases, there is a federal court injection called Cooper v. Salazar, that in affect makes it very hard to have the case dismissed at the IDHR level.

What this means for most defendants/respondents is that the case will proceed to the Illinois Human Rights Commission (“IHRC“) if the person is claiming sexual harassment with the IDHR. So if you are defending a sexual harassment case at the IDHR, perhaps you don’t want to spend too much time and your clients money defending it. Your clients money will be better spent waiting for the case to make it to the IHRC or the local circuit court.

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Sexual Harassment Cases At The Illinois Human Rights Commission

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So you have a sexual harassment case that is now proceeding at the Illinois Human Rights Commission (“IHRC“) and you don’t know what to do next. First, you should hire an experienced employment attorney. If you are successful at the IHRC, you will be awarded reasonable attorney fees. This means, if you really believe you have a good case, why wouldn’t you want to have an attorney on your side? And many times you can hire a lawyer for an IHRC case who will work on a contingency/hour rate offset. That means, if you settle the case he will get a percentage, but if the case goes to trial and you are successful, he will charge by the hour. So there really isn’t a good reason not to have experience on your side.

The IHRC is a little different that circuit court. Some of the rules are different regarding discovery. Because depositions are not allowed without permission from the Judge and rarely given, written discovery is extra important. That means the questions you ask and how you ask them could make or break your case. If you don’t ask for the right information, your case could be lost. Don’t take a chance at the IHRC by going it alone. Make sure you have someone on your side fighting for your best interest. The other side will have an attorney, you should too.

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Am I The Victim Of Sexual Harassment If The Boss Is Having Sex With Another Employee?

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Here is a question I get quite often in my Chicago office. What happens if the boss is having sex with another employee and she seems to be getting the best treatment at work? Does this make me the victim of sexual harassment? The short answer is yes it does. If the person is getting better treatment from the boss because she is having sex with him, the converse is true. You are getting worse treatment from the boss because you are not having sex with him. Another words, but for the sexual relationship, the boss might be giving you the better assignment, work hours or other good benefits.

So what are you suppose to do when this happens to you at work? You should document with actual evidence and contact an employment attorney. The attorney will probably file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR“) on your behalf. The IDHR will investigate the complaint and issue a report either finding substantial evidence or lack thereof. At that point you can file a lawsuit directly in the local circuit court. If there is substantial evidence you can file with the Illinois Human Rights Commission (“IHRC“) instead of the local circuit court.

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Is It Retaliation When An Employee Gets Fired For Reporting Sexual Harassment?

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So you are at work minding your own business and you witness sexual harassment taking place. The boss is harassing one of your female co-workers. She seems too afraid to come forward and do anything about it. You have had enough and you go to human resources and tell them what is taking place between the supervisor and the female employee. It is clear what you are reporting is sexual harassment and a violation of the company policy. However, a week after you report this conduct you suddenly get called into the office and are told you aren’t needed any longer and you are terminated. The company comes up with some feeble excuse that makes no sense. What is anything can and should you do?

Under the Illinois Human Rights Act (“Act“), an employee cannot have anything negative happen for reporting discriminatory conduct, including sexual harassment. So not only is the person who is the victim of harassment protected but also the person reporting it. In this instance the person who was fired should contact an employment lawyer and file a complaint of sexual harassment and retaliation with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR“). The IDHR will investigate the complaint and if they find substantial evidence you can file a lawsuit in the local circuit court or directly with the Illinois Human Rights Commission (“IHRC“). One of the remedies you can get is your job back plus lost wages. There are very strict time limits for filing so don’t wait.

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The Cost Of Defending A Sexual Harassment Case

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So you own a business in the Chicago area and one of your employees filed a sexual harassment complaint against you. What should you do and how much will this cost you? The first thing you should do is immediately save anything that may be evidence in this case. This would include cell phones, computers and emails. If you have any texts or emails from this person or to this person save them. Destroying evidence is not only a violation of the rules of evidence, but it makes you look guilty of something. If you are a large company, you should send out a preservation of evidence letter. This letter will instruct other employees that they should not destroy anything that has to do with the employee making the complaint. The other thing you should do is hire an employment lawyer who concentrates in these types of cases. There is no substitute for experienced when it comes to complicated issues in discrimination cases. These cases are expensive to defend but even more expensive if you lose them. So it is very important for you to take the case seriously.

The most common place the employee will file the complaint is with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR“). The IDHR is tasked with investigating complaints within a one-year time frame. Once the IDHR perfects the charge, you will have 60 days to file a verified answer to the complaint. This just means you have to file an answer to each allegation under oath. The IDHR will also send out a packet of information they want from you and you must provide that along with a position statement. The position statement is a detailed account of what happened from your viewpoint. You can attach documents to this statement as exhibits and provide any other details you believe will help the investigator determine the charges are not true. It is important to put together a document that is logical and supported by evidence. This is where you want to show the investigator that there is no way the story being told by the former employee can be true. The problem with the IDHR investigation however is that under the Cooper v. Salazar federal court case and injunction, and investigator cannot make a credibility determination regarding conflicting witness testimony. What this means in reality is that if the complaining employee says she was sexually harassed, the case is probably going to move forward to the Illinois Human Rights Commission (“IHRC“) for trial. This isn’t all bad news, it just extends the case and will cost you more money.

So what happens at the IHRC and how is that different from the IDHR? Remember at the IDHR the investigator could not make a credibility determination of witness testimony and evidence. However at the Commission, the Judge will make a determination of witness testimony. At the Commission the person making the allegations must prove her case. It is not enough to just allege it. This means if you have good evidence and conflicting testimony, the chances are good your case will be dismissed or that you will be found not liable by the Judge. Even if you win your case at the Commission you can expect to spend thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees. However, if you lose your case, that number can be much higher. And if you lose, you will most likely have to pay the attorney fees of the prevailing party. The bottom line is for you to take the charge seriously and fight it with vigor and plan on succeeding or else risk paying a large amount of money if you lose.

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Pornography At Work And Sexual Harassment

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So you are working at your office in downtown Chicago and the co-worker keeps viewing pornography on his computer. You ask him to stop viewing this material at work and he just laughs it off. What can you do? Under the law in Illinois if a co-worker is doing something discriminatory, you must report it to management before any liability attaches to the company. This is a much different standard from what takes place if the supervisor or member of management is engaging in sexual harassment. And make no mistake about it, this conduct is sexual harassment in Illinois.

The good thing about reporting this type of conduct is the company can check computer logs and files on the computer server to determine which websites the employee was visiting. So this means there won’t be any dispute about what was taking place. Or will there be? The problem is many companies don’t want to be bothered by this activity and they may try to put the matter to rest without taking any action. In other cases the company may actually take negative actions against the employee complaining about the conduct. If this happens to you, it is called retaliation and it is a violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act (“Act”). Under the Act, the company can’t take any negative job action against any employee who is complaining about sexual harassment or other forms of discrimination. It is amazing how often companies don’t take complaints seriously and instead blame the complaining employee. Don’t be the victim of workplace harassment if this happens to you.

Any seasoned employment lawyer can help you with your case if this is happening to you. The most important thing to remember is the law protects you as an employee. You have rights that can’t be taken away by the employer. You are entitled to a workplace free from harassment and free from intimidation. No one has a right to interfere with you at work in this way. Don’t let human resources buffalo you or try to direct you in the wrong direction. Human resources is in place to help the company not you. And the company has legal advice and procedures in place to help the company–not you. Keep all of this in mind as you navigate the issue at work.

What can you expect if you decide to file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR“) regarding this type of conduct? The IDHR is mandated by law to conduct a very thorough investigation within one-year. This includes contacting the company and interviewing witnesses. The IDHR will also request records from the company and get copies of all policies in place. Once the IDHR gets all of this information, the investigator will contact you through your attorney to set up a client interview. After the interview the IDHR will schedule a fact-finding conference with you, your lawyer and the company and their representatives. This process is very important and you should not try to navigate it alone. The company will have someone there representing their interests and you should as well.

The next step is for the investigator to complete the investigation and draft a report finding either substantial evidence or lack thereof. This will determine what options are left for you as far as venues to file your case for trial. WIth substantial evidence you can file at the Illinois Human Rights Commission (“IHRC“) or the local circuit court. With lack of substantial evidence you can only file at the local circuit court. For a more comprehensive look at what takes place, contact an employment lawyer. In any case, protect your rights and don’t allow your company to push you around.

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Retaliation Claim At The Illinois Human Rights Commission

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So you have a retaliation claim at the Illinois Human Rights Commission (“IHRC“) and you are unsure what will happen next. The IHRC is where your case will be heard and a determination made about liability and damage, if any. This is where your case will be won or lost. The company was not required to hire an attorney during the investigative phase but they are required to at the IHRC. Because the company will have an attorney you should have one also. You will be under a big disadvantage if you go it alone at this stage.

The IHRC is where discovery will take place and where you can expect to follow all of the rules of the chief judge and the commission. These are complicated and even attorneys who are not familiar with the IHRC make mistakes. You should consult with and hire an experienced employment lawyer when proceeding before the IHRC. Even after you have your trial you will have to draft a post brief and it must be done in a certain way. Don’t go it alone, your case is too important.