September 22, 2012

How Long Do Sexual Harassment Cases Take

A question my Chicago office gets often is about the length of time it takes for a sexual harassment case. Most people don't realize how long discrimination cases can take from start to finish. If a case is filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") it will take roughly a year from the IDHR to finish its' investigation and issue a finding of either substantial evidence or lack thereof. If there is a finding of substantial evidence you can then file with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") for trial in front of an administrative law judge. If there is a lack of substantial evidence you can file a lawsuit in the local circuit court and ask for a jury trial or have your case hear by a judge.

So how long does it take at the IHRC or in court? It can take another year or longer to get to trial. And after trial at the IHRC the judge can take a few years to issue the decision. What this means is that from the time you first file until you get a ruling from the judge three or four years could pass. This is a reason why it is important for you to try and settle cases when you have a chance to.

September 3, 2012

Hostile Work Environments In Naperville Illinois

The work is demanding and you put in long hours but that isn't the problem. Your boss is constantly asking you personal questions and he calls you late at night. You know he wants a relationship with you-and he is married. Obviously he wants a sexual relationship with you. So what are your options? You are afraid if you report the conduct to human resources he will retaliate against you and you need the job. Do you have a claim or lawsuit? The short answer is yes you do. In Illinois this conduct would create a hostile work environment and would be the grounds for a sexual harassment complaint.

You would be able to file the sexual harassment complaint with either the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). If you file with the IDHR they will automatically cross-file with the EEOC so that is your best bet. This gives you multiple options. You will be able to file in state court, federal court or possibly proceed at the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). The important point is to get the best evidence of the sexual harassment and keep it. This would be text messages, voice messages, emails and if the conduct occurs in front of other employees their names. You could also send the employee an email after the conduct occurs and ask them to comment on what they just saw. Then print out the response and keep it in the safe place.

August 31, 2012

Springfield Illinois Constructive Discharge Cases

I have two offices in the state of Illinois and my downstate office gets calls from the Springfield area asking to explain a constructive discharge. The Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act") governs the rights of employees in Illinois relative to discrimination. Under the Act, an employee cannot be subjected to discrimination. A constructive discharge occurs when an employee is subjected to discrimination in the workplace and the hostile work environment it creates is such that a reasonable person would not longer tolerate it and quits. For the purpose of a lawsuit it is treated as a termination. I recommend if this happens you immediately file with the Illinois Department of Employment Security ("IDES") for unemployment benefits.

So what remedies are available if you quit and call it a constructive discharge? First you would file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). If you are successful with the IDHR, your case will move to the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") or you can elect to take your case to the local circuit court. An experienced employment lawyer can explain which would be best in your particular case. There are a number of factors involved in deciding where to file. The most important point is that you save as much evidence as possible of the discrimination. Text messages, voice mails, and emails are usually the best form of evidence. In some cases, other employees can be witnesses but remember they may not wish to get involved for fear of losing their job.

August 18, 2012

Hiring A Lawyer For The Illinois Human Rights Commission

So you filed a sexual harassment or other type of discrimination case at the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and they found substantial evidence. Now your case is at the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). What should you do to help ensure you will be successful. Well, first remember that the company wasn't required to hire an attorney at the IDHR but the company is required to have a lawyer at the IHRC. What this means is you will be at a disadvantage if you go it alone.

Most employment lawyers will take a good case at the IHRC on contingency fee basis which means you won't have to put money up front to hire the lawyer. This will make it easier for you to hire a lawyer and have your employment rights protected. The IHRC can be a tricky place for lawyers so trying to go it alone is difficult and unnecessary. Why risk having your important employment case dismissed because you don't understand complicated discovery requests or because you answer the questions incorrectly. Your case made it this far, be smart and seek a good experienced employment lawyer.

July 16, 2012

Chicago Constructive Discharge Lawsuits

So the work atmosphere at your Chicago workplace isn't what you bargained for. The boss keeps making comments that make it clear he doesn't like female workers. The men get all the best job assignments and his negative comments toward females doesn't stop. You report this to human resources and nothing happens. What are your legal options and what should you do? Well if it gets to the point that you can no longer go into work because of the actions of your boss, you could quit. In Illinois this is called a constructive discharge. For the purposes of employment a constructive discharge is treated as a termination. If you do quit, file for unemployment and let the government make the determination as to whether you can collect or not.

After you quit, contact a good employment lawyer and file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR is tasked with investigating complaints of discrimination. Once you file with the IDHR, and they investigate the complaint and upon a finding of substantial evidence you can file with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") for trial in front of an administrative law judge. The IHRC is where you can be awarded money for lost wages, emotional distress and attorney fees. It is important that you keep track of your lost wages and places you look for work. The important point is to protect your rights and not let the company get away with the discriminatory conduct.

July 14, 2012

Illinois Sexual Orientation Discrimination Lawsuits

So you are gay and feel that your manager is treating you different based on your sexual orientation. What if anything can you do? Well first, the treatment must be of a substantial manner and not something that is trivial. So if you were passed over for promotion based on your sexual orientation, you could file a complaint of discrimination based on sexual orientation with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR would conduct an investigation and if they find substantial evidence, you could file a complaint with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") for trial.

A few important points prior to filing your complaint with the IDHR. First, make sure you secure as much evidence of the discrimination as possible. The evidence may be text messages, emails, or co-workers who may have witnessed any comments. So if your boss makes reference to your sexual orientation and makes derogatory comments those would be good examples of evidence that would help your case. Another important point is to make sure you are doing a good job at work and have good attendance. Don't give the company a reason to discipline or fire you. The bottom line is that you have legal protection if you are gay and the company is discriminating against you.

July 13, 2012

Joliet Illinois Sexual Harassment Lawsuits

You are working at a company in Joliet Illinois and doing your best to perform well. The problem is your male supervisor is trying to ask you out on dates and he makes it clear that he wants a sexual relationship with you. What if anything can and should you do? Well if the supervisor is doing it, there is strict liability on the company. If it is another employee you must notify the company and give them a chance to remedy the situation before there will be liability on the company. So in the example above, you should hire a good employment lawyer and file a sexual harassment complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR").

The IDHR will cross-file the complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). This gives you both state and federal options going forward. If you are successful at the IDHR you will have a right to have your sexual harassment case heard by an administrative law judge at the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). The judge may award you lost wages, money for emotional distress and attorney fees. It is very important that you protect your employment rights and don't let the supervisor or company get away with forcing you to endure sexual harassment in the workplace.

July 9, 2012

Chicago Sexual Orientation Discrimination

The tight job market is making work tough on everyone and employers seem to be flexing their muscle and making things hard on employees. My Chicago office is seeing an increase in the discrimination cases based on sexual orientation. There are probably several reasons for this increase. First more people are open about their sexual orientation and therefore there are more opportunities to become the victim of discrimination. Second the employers don't seem to be giving the proper training to their employees about what not to say or do regarding someones sexual orientation. Under the Illniois Human Rights Act ("Act") it is a violation of the law to single someone out based on their sexual orientation.

If you believe you are being treated different at work based on your sexual orientation, you can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR will investigate the complaint and within one-year file a report finding either substantial evidence of the discrimination or lack of substantial evidence. If there is substantial evidence you would have the right to file a complaint with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") for trial. You could also file a complaint directly with the local circuit court. If there is a finding of lack of substantial evidence you can file directly with the local circuit court or ask the IHRC review the finding of the IDHR. The main point is there are options available for you and if you believe you are the victim of discrimination contact an seasoned employment attorney.

June 1, 2012

Is Flirting At Work Sexual Harassment?

So my Chicago office has been getting inquiries about whether or not flirting at work is sexual harassment in Illinois. They answer is maybe. First it would depend on who is doing the flirting. If your boss if flirting with you there is strict liability on the company. The reason is simple. The boss has too much power over you and it would put you in a position of either flirting back to satisfy him or to risk not flirting back and then facing his rath from being rejected. Either way, none of this is work related and it would constitute sexual harassment in Illinois in my opinion. On the other hand if it is a co-worker and you are flirting back and forth, that would not be sexual harassment because it would not be unwanted. If it is a co-worker and you don't flirt back and forth, then the company would only have liability once your tell the company and they fail to take any corrective action.

So what are you suppose to do if this happens? Call my office and we will file a complaint of sexual harassment with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR will investigate the complaint and if they find substantial evidence of the sexual harassment they will issue a report and allow us to file directly with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") for trial. This is where you can be awarded many things including lost wages, attorney fees, and money for emotional distress and other things.

May 29, 2012

Chicago Sexual Harassment Lawsuits By Secretaries

My Chicago offices gets many calls from administrative assistants and secretaries who are subjected to sexual harassment by their bosses. They usually want to know what their rights are and what they can do. First, try and gather as much evidence as possible regarding the sexual harassment. This would include text messages, voice messages and emails. Also, if there are witnesses to the incidents, make a note of the persons name, the date and what occurred. If you don't make a note it will be hard to recall the exact details which could hurt your case. So if you do all of this and you have some evidence what should you do next?

The short answer is call my Chicago office and we can discuss the facts and then file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (""IDHR"). The IDHR is mandated under law to complete an investigation into any discrimination within one-year. This allows the case to move quickly through the system and usually results in settlement during that time. If the case isn't settled, and substantial evidence is found, we can file for trial at the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). This allows for maximum pressure on the other side to settle the case.

May 21, 2012

Purusing A Retaliation Claim At The Illinois Human Rights Commission

So your former boss engaged in retaliation against you when you spoke up about sexual harassment in the workplace. The retaliation ended up being a demotion and loss of pay. You contacted an employment laywer and filed a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR found substantial evidence and now you are filing with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") for trial. What can you expect? How long will it take? What are your chances?

Well, generally it will take about a year before your case will actually get heard by an administrative law judge at the IHRC. The other side would file a verified answer, then the attorney's meet with the judge to set a discovery schedule and engage in discovery. After discovery is complete, either side can file dispositive motions. Only after those motions are ruled on are you ready for trial. You chances will depend on the facts of your case. It will also depend on how good the discovery requests are and what you receive from the other side during discovery. This is why you should never go it alone. Discovery is very important to the outcome of a discrimination case.

May 15, 2012

Can You Win Sexual Orientation Claims At The Illinois Human Rights Commission?

My Chicago office gets inquiries about sexual orientation cases all the time. One question people have is can the case result in victory at the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC")? First we should discuss what a victory would be. At the IHRC if you are successful you can get lost wages, lost benefits, attorney fees, money for emotional distress, and money for any medical bills you have incurred as a result of the discrimination. Also the Judge may order the company to have to undergo mandatory training on discrimination, and may bar them from doing business with the state for up to three years. So how do you go about winning your case at the IHRC?

First you have to file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and get a finding of substantial evidence. Next the case is filed with the IHRC and discovery will take place. Discovery is where cases are won and lost. It is very important that you cooperate fully during this process and answer questions from the other side as fully and accurately as possible. It is also very important that you have a good employment lawyer during this phase because you want to ensure the discovery that is sent to your employer is good. If you don't ask for the right information in the right way, you will not get important documents which you can utilize at trial. Sexual orientation cases are very good cases to take before the IHRC and can often lead to good awards.

April 21, 2012

Chicago Employment Discrimination Tips For Workers

So you are working in downtown Chicago and now after doing such a great job you now have a problem. You are the victim of what you perceive to be employment discrimination and you don't know what to do. In Chicago, discrimination in the workplace is governed by the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act"). The Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") is tasked with investigating claims of discrimination under the Act. My office regularly practices at the IDHR and having an experienced attorney discuss your options is a good first start. There are many nuances during the investigation process that can mean the difference between your case being taken to the next level. In this case the next level would be for a trial at the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). The IHRC is where an administrative law judge either finds in your favor or against you. If she finds in your favor you can collect lost wages, attorney fees, and money for emotional distress.

It is very important that you properly document what is taking place at work if you believe you are the victim of employment discrimination. Some types of documentation are emails, text messages, voice messages, the names of witnesses and items like performance reviews. If the boss gives you great performance reviews prior to the discrimination and then you get fired, it would seem obvious that you are the victim of retaliation and the paper trail of performance reviews would be great evidence. My office never charges to discuss your employment related discrimination case. Protect yourself at work and don't let the company's lawyers and human resource personnel dictate your rights.

April 6, 2012

The Cost Of Defending A Sexual Harassment Lawsuit In Chicago

I am a plaintiff's employment law attorney and represent those that are the victims of sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination. So how much does it cost a company to defend a claim of sexual harassment? There is no bright line answer to that question. First, the facts and circumstances of each case will dictate how much attorney fees may be. Second, the venue chosen by the plaintiff and her attorney will also impact attorney fees. So for example if you chose federal court there is a better chance attorney fees will be higher than say at the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). There are several reasons for this. In federal court, you must be a member of the trial bar along with the general bar in order to take the case to trial. What this translates to is a more senior attorney will probably have to handle the case. This translates to higher hourly rates. Generally speaking, lower level lawyers can take cases to trial at the IHRC whereas a more experienced attorney is needed in federal court.

Another reason for high legal fees in Chicago defending sexual harassment cases is the system defense lawyers have in place. For the most part they charge by the hour. What this means is if they settle the case very quickly, the cut off their own nose so to speak because they end their payday. It is actually to their advantage to have prolonged litigation. They may not like hearing that but it is factually correct. So there isn't much incentive for defense lawyers to settle sexual harassment cases early in the process. On the other hand it makes them rich by dragging cases on for a long period of time. I am claiming they intentionally drag cases on for a long time, but I am just stating the obvious.

April 3, 2012

Chicago Secretaries Subjected To Sexual Harassment

So you work hard all day as a secretary or administrative assistant and you now have a problem. Your boss has been hitting on you and makes you feel uncomfortable. So what constitutes sexual harassment in Chicago and throughout Illinois? What I just described above would be regarded as sexual harassment in Chicago. Because the boss has power and control over you the standard for sexual harassment is different than if another employee asks you for a date. Just think, if you reject the boss and don't go out with him, you may feel he would treat you different after the rejection. And you may feel compelled to go out with him for fear of making him made. These are the reasons it is sexual harassment if the boss hits on you at work. And the company would have absolute liability if the boss sexually harassed you at work.

So what do you do if this happens to you? After you contact my office we would file a sexual harassment complaint against the boss and your company at the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR is the investigative agency that is tasked with conducting investigations of violations of the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act"). Sexual harassment is a violation of the Act and investigation of this violation would fall within the purview of the IDHR. Of course because the IDHR only investigates, they can't award money to the victim of sexual harassment. If you are successful at the IDHR and they issue a finding of substantial evidence, you can file a complaint with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") and they can award money to you if successful at trial.

April 2, 2012

Illinois Department Of Human Rights Legal Tips

So you are in Chicago and you believe you are the victim of discrimination. What should you do to protect your rights? My Chicago office handles many types of discrimination and I file with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and they will automatically cross-file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") if the subject matter is allowable. The advantage to filing with the IDHR is they are mandated by the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act") to investigate the discrimination complaint within one-year. This means your case will be quickly moved through the system and perhaps a resolution between the parties can take place.

For example in a sexual harassment case, the EEOC will allow for cross-filing and you will have multiple options going forward. This gives you the ability to file a sexual harassment lawsuit in federal court or if you follow the IDHR/state route, in state court or with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). A note, you can only file with the IHRC if there is a finding of substantial evidence by the IDHR or if the IDHR fails to complete its investigation within one-year. Make sure you protect your rights if you have been the victim of discrimination in Chicago or in other areas of Illinois.

March 28, 2012

Chicago Area Employers Engaging In Sexual Harassment

Chicago area employers seem to be engaging in sexual harassment through their employees. My Chicago office is seeing a rise in the number of sexual harassment complaints. These complaints will be filed at the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). After filing at the IDHR, if there is a finding of substantial evidence, the case can proceed in the local circuit court or at the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). Most sexual harassment cases involve the creation of a hostile work environment. The hostile work environment can be caused by sexual comments or viewing sexual material on the computer.

It is very important that as an employee you realize your rights under the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act"). Under the Act you are protected at work from sexual comments and requests for sex among other things. If you are the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace you have many remedies available to you and an experienced employment lawyer can help you decide the best course of action. Remember that very strict time limits apply to sexual harassment cases so act fast and don't procrastinate.

March 26, 2012

Pointers On Discovery In Sexual Harassment Cases In Chicago

So your sexual harassment case is at the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). You are about to engage in discovery and you may be unsure what do to next. Hopefullly you have contacted an employment attorney and he can take care of it for you. If you haven't, I suggest you do. Discovery is where cases are won and lost. Get the proper information and the other side will probably settle the case. Don't get the right information and the other side will gladly take the case to trial.

It is very important to do thorough requests for product of documents. For example, when asking for your employment file, don't just get the documents inside the file, get a copy of the file jacket, front, back and inside. Many times human resources will write comments on the front or inside of the employment file jacket. Missing this could be a bad decision. You should also ask for all electronic data which would include computer files, phone records, text messages and cell phone records. Remember the more time you spend thinking about discovery the better your chances are for winning.

March 25, 2012

Chicago Sexual Harassment Complaints At The IDHR

Well the figures for fiscal year 2011 are in and there were 417 sexual harassment complaints filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") last year. The majority were filed in Chicago at the IDHR offices in the Thompson Center. Now most of these charges also included additional basis of discrimination, most notably retaliation. The reason for this is most companies don't do the right thing once a sexual harassment complaint is filed and they take a negative job action against the complaining employee. Additionally, if during the company investigation someone comes forward as a witness and they receive a negative job action, they would have their own retaliation claim. Remember when you file a sexual harassment complaint with the IDHR, it is automatically cross-filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") if you check the appropriate box on the IDHR cover sheet.

By having the complaint filed with both the IDHR and EEOC you have two great options. If you stay with the IDHR and a finding of substantial evidence is awarded, you can filed directly with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") for trial or file your case in the local circuit court. If you take the EEOC path you can file a lawsuit in federal court. How you proceed will generally depend on the facts of the case. It is very important to have the facts in your case evaluated by an experienced and aggressive employment lawyer. In Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois my office never charges to discuss your employment discrimination case.

March 22, 2012

Taking An Employment Discrimination Case To the Illinois Human Rights Commission

The Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") located in downtown Chicago and in Springfield Illinois is a cost-effective way to proceed with your employment discrimination case. Many times cases will come up that don't warrant filing in state or federal court because of low damages. Determining which venue to take a discrimination claim is fact specific and an experienced employment attorney can help with this calculation. One factor to keep in mind is whether or not you wish to have a jury trial. At the IHRC, an administrative law judge will hear the case and you can't have a jury trial. However, in state or federal court you may elect to have a jury trial.

One advantage of a jury trial is emotion can sway a juror to award a large amount in damages. Whereas a judge is more likely to stick to the facts and not let emotion rule the day. An advantage of a trial in front of the judge is if you have strong facts you don't have to worry about the judge missing them. A jury may get caught up in the trial and miss important facts. So there are pros and cons to taking your employment discrimination claim in front of the IHRC.

March 21, 2012

How Do You Enforce A Judgement From The Illinois Human Rights Commission?

So you filed your sexual harassment complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and you received a finding of substantial evidence. Next you filed a complaint with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") and received a judgment for say $20,000. The Respondent refuses to pay the amount, what should you do? Well there is good news for you. You have two options. You can file an enforcement action in the local courthouse where the discrimination occurred. Of course this option will require you to pay court fees and costs.

The second option is to file a motion for enforcement with the IHRC. The advantage of this is the cost and time. Let the IHRC work on your behalf and bring the Respondent in to explain why they haven't paid the judgement. I recommend you have an attorney at this stage to make sure things go smoothly. Remember getting that piece of paper that says you are awarded some money doesn't do you any good until you covert it into cash. The IHRC in Chicago is located at 100 W Randolph in the Thompson building. Don't let valuable judgements go unenforced.

March 11, 2012

Sexual Orientation Discrimination In Chicago

So you live in Chicago and you have been getting some unwanted comments at work. If the comments involve your sexuality you may have a discrimination claim based on sexual orientation. It is a violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act") to treat someone different based on their sexual orientation. Additionally if co-workers are making comments about you like "gay" or "fag" you should report this to management. If management refuses to address this issue you may have a sexual orientation discrimination claim.

If you are the victim of sexual orientation discrimination in Chicago you can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). They will investigate the complaint and if they find substantial evidence, you can file a complaint with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") or you can file a complaint in the local circuit court. The important thing to remember is there are strict time limits and you should contact an employment lawyer as soon as you start to get trouble at work. Human resources is set up to help the company, not you.

March 1, 2012

Why FIle At The Chicago Commission On Human Relations

So you have been the victim of sexual harassment at work and you don't know what to do next. Well of course you should contact an employment lawyer and then he will file at one of two places. First you can file with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR is mandated by law to complete an investigation within 365 days. Upon getting a finding of substantial evidence you can then file directly with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") for trial in front of an administrative law judge. Instead of filing with the IHRC you can also file in the local circuit court for a jury trial.

Another option if you live in Chicago is to file with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations ("CCHR"). One advantage to filing with the CCHR is you may be awarded punitive damages if successful. This may be important depending on the facts of your case. For example if you have a case in which the actual lost wage damage is limited but the facts are outrageous, punitive damages may be important and the way to go. The important point is to have your case properly evaluated so a determination can be made on which venue to file your case.

February 26, 2012

Illinois Human Rights Commission Trials In Chicago

The system we have in Illinois may be confusing to some people. One reason is there are two agencies that have similar names but have different functions. The two are the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and the other is the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). The IDHR has the job of investigating a discrimination claim based on the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act"). The IHRC is the agency that has the actual trial after there is a finding of substantial evidence by the IDHR. The process can be confusing and it makes sense to have an experienced employment lawyer on your side.

In Chicago the IHRC in located downtown in the Thompson Center and there are several administrative law judges on the 5th floor. There are actual rooms that look like mini courtrooms and that is where the trial will take place. You should remember that it will take your case about year to make it through the IDHR and another year to get it to trial at the IHRC. Then after the trial, both parties file post trial briefs and then the Judge takes the case under advisement. The bottom line is the Judge will not make a ruling for another two years. What this means to you is that from the day you file your sexual harassment or other discrimination case at the IDHR, it will take at least four years before you will be awarded any money.

February 21, 2012

Information About The Illinois Human Rights Commission In Chicago

The Chicago office of the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") is where trials take place for violations of the Illinois Human RIghts Act ("ACT"). The trial is not in front of a jury but instead in front of an administrative law judge. Practicing in front of the IHRC is different from circuit court. Because of the differences, it is helpful to have an experienced employment law attorney on your side. There are various options available to you and it is important to have every fact available before you make your decision.

For example if you filed a sexual harassment complaint with the Illinois Department of Human RIghts ("IDHR") in Chicago and the investigator found substantial evidence, you will either file a complaint with the IHRC or file a lawsuit in circuit court. So the IHRC is really the second step in the process of having your sexual harassment complaint heard. Even after trial, it could take up to two-years for the judge to write an opinion on the case. For this reason it is important to always keep settlement in mind. Settlement allows both sides to put the matter behind them and also to guarantee costs.

February 15, 2012

Winning Your Sexual Harassment Case At The Illinois Human Rights Commission

Well you filed your sexual harassment case at the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") in Chicago and they found substantial evidence. Now what do you do? Well unless you choose to file your case with in the local circuit court you will have a trial at the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). The IHRC is different in many ways from the local court so it takes experience and knowledge to navigate. At the IHRC an administrative law judge will hear and decide the case not a jury. I believe this is a good thing because the judge is experienced in hearing employment law cases exclusively and this will work to your advantage.

There is another reason why the IHRC is a good venue for taking your sexual harassment case. There are no depositions unless ordered by the judge-which doesn't happen often. This keeps the cost of litigation down and puts more pressure on companies because they can't use their advantage of bigger pockets. In my experience most cases settle at the IHRC because the companies don't like paying attorney fees and don't like the uncertainty of not having depositions. It is important for victims of discrimination to realize they have a good option by taking a case to the IHRC.

February 14, 2012

What Makes A Hostile Work Environment At Work In Chicago

When you are at work what creates a hostile work environment in Chicago? If you are the victim of sexual harassment a hostile work environment will be created not just for you but for other employees too. Other employees who can hear and see the harassment are being subjected to the hostile work environment not just you. Additionally, anyone who acts as a witness during an investigation and is subjected to any type of negative action is not only in a hostile work environment but also has a claim of retaliation. When this happens there are a few things to keep in mind. First document everything that is taking place. Include the names of people who may have witnessed the harassment and the dates and times it took place. Second, gather any written evidence like emails, text messages and written messages. Lastly, file a written report about the sexual harassment to human resources.

The next step would be to file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR is responsible for investigating the complaint and determining whether there is substantial evidence to take the charge to the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") for trial. Companies are getting more aggressive and are not respecting the legal employment rights of employees. It is very important that you have someone on your side that knows employment law and fights hard for you. Don't be the victim of a hostile work environment in Chicago.

January 31, 2012

No Upfront Costs For Chicago Sexual Harassment Cases

I am always amazed when I walk into the waiting area of the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") at the Thompson Center in Chicago and see people filing out paperwork by themselves. Most of them don't realize that they could have an employment attorney working for them for basically free. My Chicago office doesn't charge unless you recover some money so in affect you are getting me for free. Just think how much stress this would take off of you and what a feeling of relief knowing you have someone with real experience helping you. I know how important your sexual harassment or other discrimination case is to you. Don't go it alone and chance losing your case.

If going it alone with the IDHR isn't bad enough, when I go to the Chicago office of the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IHRC") I see even more people who are going it alone. This is very bad because the other side will have an attorney and this puts you at a real disadvantage. Do you really think you can go one-on-one with an experienced employment discrimination attorney ? And if you can get an attorney for contingency fee, why would you want to try? My Chicago offices never charges a fee to discuss your employment case. Do the right thing and call for a free consultation. Don't go it alone.

January 29, 2012

Winning Your Age Discrimination Lawsuit At The Illinois Human Rights Commission

So you filed your age discrimination lawsuit with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and received your notice of substantial evidence. Now what are you suppose to do? Well you can proceed on your own and file a complaint with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") for trial. Remember there won't be a jury trial but rather a trial in front of an administrative law judge. The good news about proceeding with the IHRC is the cost is free. Also there is a limited version of discovery that usually doesn't involve depositions--which can get expensive.

Age discrimination cases are usually won by the numbers. What I mean by that is usually someone isn't going to put derogatory statements about someones age in writing. You will generally have to prove the case by showing statistically younger workers are being given favorable treatment over older workers. The age cut-off is age 40. It is very important that you know how to proceed at the IHRC and can properly draft discovery and properly answer the discovery that the company will send to you. For this reason you should consult with an experienced and aggressive employment law attorney.

January 22, 2012

Proceeding Before The Illinois Human RIghts Commission

So what happens after you file your sexual harassment complaint with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC")? Well you would have already gone through the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and will have an idea of the companies position against you. The key will be to evaluate your chances of success at the IHRC. Remember the standards are much different at the IHRC than they were at the IDHR. For this reason it is very important to be represented by an experienced employment law attorney. Things can get very tricky with the IHRC and you need to properly propound discovery to the other side. Additionally you must know the proper way to answer the discovery that is coming your way.

It is my experience that most cases will settle at the IHRC because the risk of a loss by the company is too great and too expensive. Remember if you are successful at the IHRC you can get your attorney fees, back wages and you can ask to be reinstated. Additionally you the Commission can file a document whereby the company can't get any government contracts for up to two years. This is a powerful incentive for the company to settle. Can you imagine if the company is getting two million dollars of government contracts per year. Do you think they are going to risk this on your case? But in order to put this type of pressure and leverage on the company you must be experienced in these types of negotiations.

January 15, 2012

What Do You Do When You Get Fired After Reporting Sexual Harassment In Chicago?

My Chicago offices gets calls all the time from people who report sexual harassment at work and then get fired. Sometimes they don't get fired but get demoted or the boss starts to really put the screws to them. In any event they get a negative job action after reporting the sexual harassment. In Illinois this is referred to as retaliation. If this happens to you at work, you can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR is tasked with investigating complaints of sexual harassment, retaliation and other forms of discrimination. There are strict time limits for reporting the activity so it is important that you act fast. Don't forget to save as much evidence as possible. This means printing out email's and text messages before they are erased.

The IDHR isn't tasked with anything more than investigation the complaint. If the investigator finds substantial evidence, you can then file a complaint with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") where you will have your trial in front of an administrative law judge. The IHRC can be a very tricky place and it takes experience to navigate. The important thing is at the IHRC you need evidence to prove your case. It is important to have an organized plan of attack.

January 8, 2012

Being Discriminated Because Of Religion In Chicago

My Chicago offices gets emails and visits from people who are the victims of religious discrimination at work. So what exactly is discrimination based on religion? You can't be treated different at work based on your religious beliefs. And the employer must make changes to the schedule that don't create a hardship on the business if your religion requires it. So if you can't work on a certain day because of your religious beliefs and it doesn't create a burden on your employer he must give you that day off. If this doesn't happen and your employer continues to treat you this way, you are in a hostile work environment and you have a right to file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR will investigate the complaint and gather documents from your employer.

If the IDHR finds that you are in fact being discriminated against you will have a right to file a complaint directly with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). The actual procedure is the IDHR sending you a letter stating that they found substantial evidence and you now have 90 days to file your complaint with the IHRC. This is where the actual trial will take place and you will have an opportunity to confront your employer and his witnesses. The trial will take place in front of an administrative law judge and the remedies available to you include, back wages, future wages, money for medical care, lost benefits, attorney fees and money for emotional distress. You can also ask for your job back. All of this puts pressure on the other side and the chances of settlement if you have a decent case are good. Don't let your employer discriminate against you because of your religious beliefs.

January 7, 2012

Illinois Human Rights Commission Pre-hearing Memo

My Chicago offices gets calls all the time from people who are representing themselves in front of the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). They may have a claim of sexual harassment resulting in the creation of a hostile work environment or some other form of discrimination. The first step of course is to file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). After the IDHR issues its' report and finds substantial evidence you then have 90 days to file directly with the IHRC. Now the case really starts. Do you know what to do next? Are you going to be able to proceed on your own? Chances are the answer is no. But if you insist on proceeding on your own you should know the basics.

You will be given a trail date. This usually just acts as a first status with the Judge. The reason for this is both parties usually want to engage in discovery. So the first trial date is not really a trial date. When you do get your first trial notice you will see that there is a statement about a pre-hearing memo being filed 10 days prior to the start of the trial. What is this and how should you approach it. An experienced trial lawyer will be able to handle this for you and will have filed this document many times. It is very important that you fill this out properly or it could affect your trial. I suggest you don't fill this out alone. If you are going to fill it out alone read the rules on the IHRC website and follow their instructions. Remember this memo is very important, will list your witnesses you will call, and the evidence you produce at trial. Don't list an important piece of evidence and you can't use it at trial.

January 5, 2012

Sexual Orientation Lawsuits On The Rise In Chicago

There are some very troubling statistics regarding discrimination complaints based on sexual orientation in Illinois and in particular in Chicago. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") the number of discrimination charges increased by over 6,000 from the previous year. In Chicago if you are the victim of discrimination based on sexual orientation you can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR will investigate the complaint and if there is a finding of substantial evidence, the IDHR will allow you to file a complaint with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") for trial. At the IHRC there will be a trial in front of an administrative law judge. You also have an option of filing a lawsuit at the circuit court in the county where the discrimination occurred. An experienced employment lawyer can help you decide which is the best venue.

Even though Chicago is a metropolitan area there are still many narrow-minded people who engage in terrible behavior toward people who are different than they are. In the case of people in the Gay and Lesbian community, small minded people still can make their life miserable at work. Remember if you are the victim of discrimination based on sexual orientation you have rights and an opportunity to make things right. There are remedies that are available to you if you file a timely charge of discrimination at the IDHR. Protect your rights and act quickly. Save any text messages, emails or voice mails that may show discrimination or unwelcome comments. Take notes of things said in private and confront the person doing the discrimination via email so you have a paper trail. Also complain to human resources in writing so you have a record of making the complaint.


January 3, 2012

Age Discrimination And The Illinois Human Rights Commission

The Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") is one of the agencies in Illinois that hears cases involving age discrimination and other forms of discrimination. In order to get a case in front of the IHRC you must first file a complaint alleging discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR will conduct an investigation and upon finding substantial evidence will send you the proper documents allowing you to file your complaint with the IHRC. It is very important to understand what takes place at both agencies so you can maximize your chances of success. Remember that one wrong step and your case could end.

So once your age discrimination case makes it to the IHRC what then? Well the good news is you are probably going to end up with a trial in front of an administrative law judge. Unless you have a baseless case this will happen. And the chances of your case being baseless at this point are not great because the case would not have made it from the IDHR. At trial you can ask for your job back which puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the company to settle. You can imagine how uncomfortable a company would be if they are ordered to take an employee back after they fired the employee. You can also ask for attorney fees, lost wages and benefits and money for emotional distress as well as any medical bills you may have incurred, including money for a therapist. Make sure you are prepared for your trial at the IHRC and maximize your chances of success.

January 2, 2012

Settling A Sexual Harassment Case At the Illinois Human Rights Commission

So your case made it all the way to the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). Now what do you do? Are you prepared to take the case to trial and wait a few years for the judges decision? Remember at the IHRC there are no jury trials. The good news for you is that most cases before the IHRC settle, just like most other civil cases. If you have a sexual harassment case chances are the company isn't going to want all the juicy details to emerge. Just think how embarrassing it would be to have the world know how women are really treated at work. If your sexual harassment case makes it to the IHRC you have leverage.

So what do you do next? Well I hope you have an experienced sexual harassment lawyer because that is how you are getting top dollar for your case. Negotiations can be tricky and are all about leverage, pressure and experience. If you are suing a company they have to have a lawyer in order to appear in front of the IHRC so why go it alone. You need a lawyer who is experienced to battle their lawyer. If you hire the right lawyer you basically get him for free because of the increase in the settlement you will receive. If your case has advanced this far, go the extra mile and make sure you receive top dollar.

December 22, 2011

Trying A Sexual Harassment Case Before The Illinois Human Rights Commission

Many times people will go it alone when they have a sexual harassment case with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). Even though it is unwise to proceed alone at that point it is not fatal. However, once the case makes it to the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") it would behoove you to hire an employment lawyer for your case. Two main reasons. First, it won't cost you anything as a good employment lawyer will take your case on contingency fee. Second, things can get tricky at the IHRC and you will actually try your case there.

The other side will have an attorney and you will be at a very big disadvantage if you don't have an attorney. One of the first things that will take place at the IHRC is discovery. If you don't draft discovery properly you may not get all of the information you need to win your case. Why take a chance and draft it alone?

December 13, 2011

Should I File At The Illinois Human Rights Commission Or Circuit Court?

My Chicago office has many cases of discrimination at the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The discrimination case may involve sexual harassment, gender discrimination, religion, sexual orientation to name just a few. So what happens after the IDHR investigator finds substantial evidence of the discrimination? Well there are several options at that point. We could file a complaint directly with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") or you can file a complaint in the local circuit court where the discrimination occurred. So which venue should you file your sexual harassment complaint or other discrimination complaint?

The answer for most cases is the IHRC. One major factor in filing with the IHRC is the cost. There is no cost in filing at the IHRC. Additionally, in my opinion the case will work its' way to trial at a faster pace than filing in the local circuit court. The downside in filing at the IHRC is you can't have a jury trial. All cases filed at the IHRC are heard by an administrative law judge. Remember the goal of any case is to get money in your pocket. Having a good negotiator on your side maximizing your settlement is key.

December 11, 2011

A Trial At The Illinois Human Rights Commission

So your sexual harassment complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") received a finding of substantial evidence and you can now proceed for a trial with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). What can you expect? Well for starters you need to contact a good employment lawyer because going it alone is fraught with potential problems. You will want to engage in discovery and your discovery requests must be properly drafted and you must file the appropriate documents with the IHRC. If you don't do things properly you risk having your case dismissed by the judge.

If you do proceed correctly at the IHRC and actually get to the trial, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, there won't be a decision made that day. After the actual trial the judge will request a post-trial memo outlining the evidence presented and your argument. This is a very important document because many times the judge won't make a decision for several years and therefore the judge will rely on what you write. It is hard for the judge to remember what was said at trial if he doesn't decide until two-years later. For this reason having an experienced attorney can help your chances of winning.

December 3, 2011

Age Discrimination In The Recession

Unemployment ranges between eight and nine percent in Chicago. As the fight for jobs increases many people over the age of 40 find themselves under more scrutiny. In Illinois it is a violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act ("IHRA") to discriminate against someone because of their age. Under the IHRA the age is 40. Another words, if you are 40 or over you can file a charge of age discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") if you believe you are being treated different than younger workers. Many times a review of all the employee files including education, experience and pay can be utilized to prove age discrimination.

Age discrimination in the workplace can also create a hostile work environment for all employees because of the message it sends. If an person is able to show substantial evidence with the IDHR, he can then file a complaint with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") for a trial in front of an administrative law judge. Remember that people over 40 are starting to near the end of their work career so any negative job action against them can really ruin their career.

November 30, 2011

Discovery At The Illinois Human Rights Commission

I get calls from people who have cases at the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") regarding how to proceed with discovery. My first piece of advice is to tell them to hire an experienced employment lawyer. Discovery is where a case can be won or lost. It is also instrumental in getting information that will lead to a good settlement. For example if you have a sexual orientation or sexual harassment case pending before the IHRC, you would want to get evidence the other side has of the discrimination. A good starting point would be text messages and emails that were uncovered by the company investigation.

Usually if you file an internal complaint of discrimination the company will do some sort of internal investigation. Documents uncovered during the investigation may be very relevant to your case. The documents get even more important if the company engages in retaliation against you after you complain about the sexual harassment or sexual orientation discrimination. There are no short cuts when it comes to discovery and how clever and complete your discovery requests are may decide how much money you end up with in your pocket.

November 29, 2011

What Is A Constructive Discharge In Chicago?

What is a constructive discharge in Illinois? A constructive discharge occurs when an employee is put in a position because of discrimination that a reasonable person in the same position would quit. Under the law a constructive discharge is treated as a termination by the employer. If a person is subjected to a hostile work environment because of discriminatory behavior, the person can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). Under the law the person would have 180 days from the last date of the discrimination to file such a complaint.

After a complaint works its' way through the system with the IDHR two things will happen. Either a finding of substantial evidence or lack thereof. There is actually a third option, the IDHR doesn't complete its' investigation within one-year and a right to file directly with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). The IHRC is where the actual trial will take place and where remedies occur. It is very important to consult with an employment lawyer early in the process to maximize your chances of getting either a good settlement or judgment.

November 28, 2011

Sexual Harassment Case At The Illinois Human Rights Commission

The Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") is the place where a sexual harassment complaint will be heard after you file your complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and get a finding of substantial evidence. You also have the option of filing your case in the local circuit court. My Chicago office handles many sexual harassment cases at the IHRC and people are foolish to not hire an experienced attorney when proceeding at that venue.

The IHRC has its' own rules and procedures which many attorneys are not familiar with. If you have an attorney who is experienced with these, it puts you in much better shape of settling your case or winning your case. Remember that sexual harassment usually creates a hostile work environment for you and other employees and you may be still working even while your case goes to trial. Taking steps to maximize your chances of winning is the best course of action. The first such step is to hire a good, aggressive and experienced employment lawyer.

November 25, 2011

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.

November 23, 2011

Proceeding Before The Illinois Human Rights Commission

My Chicago office handles many types of discrimination cases. One question that I get asked often is what happens after I file a discrimination case with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR")? Does the IDHR try the case and give a verdict? The answer is no. The IDHR investigates the complaint and if there is substantial evidence allows you to file directly with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") for trial. So in fact the IDHR acts as a gate keeper for the IHRC. This keeps the number of cases down so the IHRC doesn't get overwhelmed with cases.

Of course the down side is many times the investigators at the IDHR try to try the case and issue their own verdict so to speak. It is very important to hire someone experienced when taking a case to the IHRC because cases can be won and lost during discovery. Many sexual harassment cases that I file at the IHRC are settled because the other side doesn't want damaging or embarrassing details coming out about what really happened at the company. Additionally, many sexual harassment cases also include a claim for retaliation and companies don't want those details emerging either. It is in your best interest to proceed before the Illinois Human Rights Commission with caution and in my opinion with the help of an experienced employment lawyer.

November 13, 2011

Trial At The Illinois Human Rights Commission Or?

Does it makes sense to file your sexual harassment case with the Illinois Human Rights Commission (“IHRC”) after you get a finding of substantial evidence from the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”)? Well there is no standard answer to that question. In general, a case filed with the IHRC will be less expensive to pursue and will go to trail faster than a case filed with the circuit court in your particular county. However after the administrative law judge hears the case at the IHRC, it can take years before a written decision is made. If you have a case go to trial in the circuit court the verdict is made that day or a day later for the most part. So what is the advantage of filing with the IHRC? Well, most cases settle prior to trial. Because the IHRC will hear the case quicker, it logically follows that the case will settle quicker once you file with the IHRC. So one big advantage of filing with the IHRC is you may get actual money in your pocket quicker.

On the down side of filing with the IHRC, an administrative law judge and not a jury will hear your case. Juries are known to award higher amounts and sometimes having that wildcard can increase settlement amounts. And in sexual harassment cases that involve a hostile work environment juries can really award large amounts. But remember there is no rule and this varies on a case-by-case basis. Another factor to consider are the facts of the case. Sometimes a case is better off being filed in an employee friendly venue like the IHRC rather than in the local circuit court—which can be very company friendly. Remember local judges for the most part are elected and companies contribute large amounts to these elections. Administrative judges are appointed and may not have that much influence from big business. So the question of which venue should I choose will depend on the facts of your case and your goals.

November 11, 2011

Sexual Harassment: Blame The Victim?

If you have been following the news lately regarding the sexual harassment allegations toward candidate Cain you will notice the following. First, a flat denial of all charges and allegations. Second a strategy of blaming the victim as being either money hungry or seeking publicity. Even where two of the victims received large sums of money--it is reported they each received a year's salary. Why would a company pay a years salary for a baseless charge with no merit? The answer is simple, they wouldn't. A baseless charge would either get no money or a nominal amount. On the other hand, a charge the has merit would be settled prior to the allegations becoming public and my guess is that is what happened to the first two victims of candidate Cain.

But the most disturbing aspect of a sexual harassment defense is that many times the company blames the victim. She was the one doing the flirting or she was sleeping around. It is very rare that the company ever comes out and acknowledges the wrongdoing and apologizes. It is my experience that if a company would just admit and apologize, many times the issue could be handled without the need for litigation. The problem is once the company takes the blame the victim attitude they usually also terminate the employee. This leaves the sexual harassment victim with one option; file a lawsuit to seek just compensation.

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November 10, 2011

Illinois Department Of Human Rights Update

My Chicago office files many claims of sexual harassment with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). A person who is the victim of sexual harassment or other form of discrimination in the workplace or public accommodation must first file with the IDHR or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). This must take place prior to having the case heard in federal court, state court or in front of the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC").

Recently because of budget cuts the IDHR has been tasked to lay off 25% of its investigators. This is going to have a dramatic affect of how quickly a case moves through the system and how well victims of discrimination will have justice. You can guess that wiping out 25% of a workforce can only have a negative impact in the quality of service. The IDHR does a great job of investigating claims and trying to resolve cases prior to the filing of a complaint in court or with the IHRC. Hopefully the masterminds in Springfield will come to their senses and stop this insanity.

November 5, 2011

Sexual Harassment And Confidentiality Agreements

So you filed a sexual harassment complaint at either the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The case is about to settle and you being told to sign an agreement that includes a paragraph called a confidentiality clause. What is a confidentiality clause and why is it in most sexual harassment agreements? The answer is simple, the clause is effectively a gag making sure you don't discuss the details of the case. Most companies settle the case and don't wish to have negative publicity associated with the case.

The confidentiality clause is also good for the employee. The clause prevents the company from badmouthing or otherwise letting details of the case escape which may put the employee in a negative light. So the confidentiality clause helps both sides and can be seen as a positive. Even if the case has reached the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") for trial the details won't become public unless there is an actual trial. Given this fact, the parties can still settle with the details of the case being kept private. The recent case involving Herman Cain and his sexual harassment lawsuit helps illustrate the importance of a good confidentiality clause in the settlement agreement.

November 1, 2011

Illinois Department Of Human Rights Staff Cuts

The Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”) is having budget issues and recently laid off employees. This means that the investigative phase of the agency will be slowed. The agency is mandated by law to complete an investigation into sexual harassment and other forms of employment discrimination within one year from the date of filing a charge. This is going to be very difficult now that there have been substantial layoffs.

The good news for plaintiffs lawyers is that the cases can perhaps get fast tracked and end up at the Illinois Human Rights Commission (“IHRC”) faster. After all the IHRC is where the money will be made because the IDHR only has the authority to issue a finding of substantial evidence or lack thereof. The IHRC on the other had can issue a monetary judgment. I will keep readers up to date on what is happening at the IDHR and if there will be further layoffs.

October 27, 2011

Proceeding Before The Illinois Human Rights Commission

So the initial complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") was successful and they found substantial evidence of your discrimination. You filed directly wit the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") for trial--now what? Well now is the time you have to prove your case in front of the administrative law judge so you can get paid. The process may seem straight forward and one in which the average person can easily navigate but beware. There are many small things in your case that take an experienced and aggressive lawyer. Do you know all the nuances of the discovery process? Do you know the best question to ask in interrogatories or the best document requests to make? If you don't ask for the right information you may be missing a great opportunity to get good and useful evidence.

Experienced employment attorneys who handle these cases in front of the IHRC can make all the difference. In fact, it can mean the different in not getting any money or getting a nice settlement or award. The IHRC is not there to represent you so you must either represent yourself or hire an employment attorney. Your have been successful so far with your case, take the extra steps and make sure you get paid. Hire an experienced employment attorney once you get to the IHRC.

October 25, 2011

Unknown Facts About The Illinois Human Rights Commission

There are many hidden facts when your case comes before the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") and the untrained person can make big mistakes is they proceed on their own. For example did you know that it generally takes over two years from the date of your trial to actually get a ruling? That isn't two years from the date of filing but rather from the actual trial. That means from the time you first file your complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") you case may take four or five years to get to an actual decision. With those facts in mind you can see why it is so important to try and settle your case early.

An experienced employment lawyer can settle your case at the IDHR level and that is the best way to go if you desire money now rather than years from now. For example in most sexual harassment cases the company will want to settle quickly to avoid negative publicity and large legal fees in defending the claim. It is always wise to hire an experienced and aggressive employment lawyer. Most cases settle so why not settle early.

August 4, 2011

Sexual Harassment Lawsuits Increasing In Chicago

My Chicago office is seeing a rise in the number of sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuits throughout the state. Of course one reason is probably the down economy and the lack of money companies want to spend on employee training. By in the long run the extra money spent on proper training will pay for itself because of the large settlement amounts that can be awarded by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") through the settlement process or by the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") or by a jury in a federal court proceeding.

Many times employers believe they can let their human resource department sweep the whole thing under the rug and take care of it. This usually does not take care of the matter and if the employee were smart she would contact an employment attorney for advice. My office handles these claims all the time and remember the company is getting legal advice so you should too.

June 6, 2011

Sexual Harassment Lawsuits Often Settled

There is a myth out there that most sexual harassment cases go to trial and there is a large verdict. One reason for this myth is the fact that most big cases get publicity and are reported in the various medias. Cases that settle for millions often make the news and give people a false sense of the true value of most sexual harassment cases. The average case does not settle for big money but settling the case is often good for a number of reasons. First, it gives closure to the victim and helps the person get on with her life. Second, it gives a guarantee of some money and lasty it can be taken as a victory-the fact that the other side paid some money. Most sexual harassment cases also involve retaliation and the creation of a hostile work environment.

The danger in taking a sexual harassment or other type of case to trial is that by the time the case goes to trial, the company could be out of business or bankrupt. The reason it takes so long is that if you file with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") they cross file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The IDHR has up to one-year to complete its' investigation and that only gives you the right to file directly with the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") if the IDHR finds substanial evidence. It will take another year with the IHRC before the actual trial and a decision by the judge after trial can take another two-years. If the EEOC investigates instead of the IDHR, it can take even longer. So if you can setttle.

May 8, 2011

Proposed Changes To Illinois Human Rights Act

My Chicago office files many complaints of discrimination and sexual harassment with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The process for filing with the IDHR is governed by the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act"). Currently the Illinois Assembly is taking a look at updating the Act by proposing two significant changes to the Act. Under the current procedure, a company has 60 days to file a verified response with the IDHR. The new proposal would cut that time down to 30 days. Second, the new proposal would eliminate the fact-finding conference.

I have no problem with the 30 day proposal but do not agree with cutting the fact-finding conference. At the fact-finding conference both sides have an opportunty to get a look at the other sides evidence and person presenting the evidence. In my opinion this increases the chance of settlement and also allows the employee to see what they are up against. For this reason I am opposed to the change and hope the assembly does not approve it. Discrimination cases affected include retaliation and discrimination that creates a hostile work environment.

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January 23, 2011

Trial At The Illinois Human Rights Commission Not The Only Alternative

If you have been the victim of sexual harassment, a hostile work environment or retaliation you have options after your case has been found to have substantial evidence by the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). You can proceed to trial before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") at the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") or you can file a complaint in the circuit court of the county where the discrimination took place. There is an additional tactical consideration. If the basis for the sexual harassment were say events that can also be alleged in a complaint of intentional infliction of emotional distress, you could file a complaint with the IHRC and a separate complaint in the circuit court for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress.

The basis for being able to file this additional complaint is found in a variety of court decisions. In Pavilon v. Kaferly, 561 N.E. 2d 1245, 204 Ill. App. 3d 235 (Ill. App. 1 Dist. 1990), the court held that the tort of Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress required proof of more than was required for sexual harassment and served a different policy than that served by the Human Rights Act, therefore the claim was not preempted by the Human Rights Act. For this reason one could give consideration to whether there are facts sufficient to file a complaint for trial with the IHRC and also a claim in circuit court for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress. Such a claim needs to prove, the conduct involved is truly extreme and outrageous; second, the actor must either intend that his conduct inflict severe emotional distress, or know that there is at least a high probability that his conduct will cause severe emotional distress; lastly, the conduct must in fact cause severe emotional distress.

January 1, 2011

Illinois Wal-Mart Sued For Sexual Harassment

Roben Hall filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Wal-Mart and it is headed for a trial before the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") on February 11, 2011. Hall claims she was subjected to sexual harassment while working as an overnight stocker for Wal-Mart. To make matters worse for Wal-Mart they fired Hall and according to published reports have threatened additional legal action against her if she continues with this lawsuit--claiming she is acting in bad faith.

In this case the sexual harassment alleged was between two women. Any sexual harassment can cause a hostile work environment for all workers not just the one being harassed. Also in Illinois one must first file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") before the case ever makes it to the IHRC. Even though the case is scheduled for trial soon, unless a pre-trial statement is filed in advance and neither party files a motion for discovery, the case trial date will only act as a first status hearing and the Judge will set discovery deadlines.

According to Hall, "one manager told her that he didn't have to investigate Hall's complaint because it involved two women."
September 8, 2010

Illinois Church Ordered To Pay $63,045 In Sexual Harassment Case

Cheryl Lockard is awarded $63,045 in her sexual harassment and retaliation case against the Rev. Keith Jones and the First Baptist Church of Canton Illinois. The Illinois Human Rights Commission declined further review of a matter in which administrative law judge Michael Robinson ruled in favor of Lockard and issued the award. Lockard is a former employee of the church and claims she was sexually harassed by Jones and once she reported the sexual harassment the church engaged in retaliation and fired her.

The church appealled the decision by Judge Robinson with the Illinois Human Rights Commission and the Commission upheld Judge Robinson's order. Along with paying Lockard $63,045 the Church and Jones must also pay her attorney fees, issue a neutral job reference letter and clear her work record. It is unusual to file an appeal with the Illinois Human Rights Commission because of the cost involved (in legal fees) and the narrow avenue for having the Judge's ruling overturned.

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