What is the Illinois Human Rights Act?

Submitted by Elizabeth on

There are both Federal and state laws that protect workers against discrimination by employers. Illinois workers are protected by the Illinois Human Rights Act, also referred to as “the Act”. This Illinois law goes further than some Federal laws to protect workers from discrimination by employers and prevent wrongful termination or forced resignation based on illegal discrimination. All Illinois workers should know their rights under the Illinois Human Rights Act. 

The Illinois Human Rights Act 

The Act was put in place to protect Illinois workers from discrimination and wrongful termination. Federal law protects people against discrimination by employers because of their race, gender, religion, orientation, or where they are from. But the Illinois Human Rights act prohibits employers from discriminating against all those things in addition to also prohibiting employers from discriminating against employees based on criteria like their credit score. The Act says that employers in Illinois can’t discriminate against employees because of their:

  • Age (40+)
  • Ancestry
  • Arrest record (in employment and real estate transactions)
  • Citizenship status (in employment)
  • Color
  • Conviction record (in employment)
  • Disability (physical, mental and association with a person with a disability)
  • Familial status (in real estate transactions)
  • Gender identity
  • Marital status
  • Military status
  • National origin
  • Order of protection status
  • Pregnancy status
  • Race (including traits associated with race like hair texture and protective hairstyles)
  • Religion
  • Retaliation
  • Sex
  • Sexual harassment (in employment and elementary, secondary and higher education)
  • Sexual orientation
  • Source of income (in real estate transactions)
  • Unfavorable military discharge
  • Work authorization status (in employment)

Illinois has one of the most comprehensive sets of workplace protections thanks to the Act. Any Illinois worker that has been a victim of wrongful termination or forced resignation can file a claim against their employer with state authorities as well as the EEOC. 

Who Does the Illinois Human Rights Act Protect?  

All workers in Illinois are protected by the Act regardless of their sex, gender, age, or immigration status. As such, all workers in Illinois have the right to file a complaint against an employer if they were wrongfully terminated or forced to quit. 

How Do I File a Charge Under the Act 

If you’re an Illinois worker who has been the victim of a wrongful termination or if you were forced to quit your job because you were being discriminated against, you must file a claim against your employer within 300 days of the day you stopped working. You will need to file a claim with the Illinois Department of Labor during those 300 days. If you are filing a complaint with the EEOC, you must file that complaint within 180 days. The findings of your EEOC complaint may help your case with the Illinois Department of Labor. 

Speak With An Employment Law Attorney 

If you’ve been wrongfully terminated from an employer in Illinois, or you were forced to quit your job due to an illegal reason, you should speak with an experienced Illinois wrongful termination lawyer today to find out what your rights are and how to file a claim. Fill out the Free Case Evaluation form on this page today to be connected with an employment lawyer in Illinois who can help you right now—at zero cost to you. 

Additional Resources 

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