Where Do I File an Illinois Employment Law Claim?

Submitted by pec on

Illinois has a number of employment laws in place that protect employees from discrimination at work, sexual harassment, retaliation or wrongful termination. State labor laws also provide regulations on wages, overtime and employment benefits. It is still not uncommon for employees to be the victim of wage theft in Illinois. This is a breach of Illinois employment law.

If you have suffered from a breach of employment law in Illinois and have evidence to prove it, you can file a complaint with one of the following agencies who may investigate and act on your complaint.

Illinois Department of Labor

The Illinois Department of Labor will investigate complaints of wage theft if the evidence you submit shows that a breach of state employment law has occurred. Wage theft can occur in several different ways, such as:

  • Paid less than the state minimum wage;
  • Not paid for overtime, or not paid at overtime rates for work done in excess of 40 hours in any 7 day period;
  • Not paid statutory benefits such as sick leave, or vacation pay;
  • Not paid wages on time or not paid correct wages on termination of employment;
  • Not paid the amount specified in an employment contract.

To file a complaint of wage theft, you should fill in a wage complaint form and email it or mail it to the Department’s Fair Labor Standards Division together with evidence that supports your complaint such as wage stubs, correspondence you have had with your employer, etc.

Illinois Department of Human Rights

The Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) is the state agency that enforces state -discrimination laws including legislation that prohibits sexual harassment and Illinois wrongful termination. Employers are also prohibited from retaliating against an employee for filing a complaint, whistleblowing or submitting a claim for workers’ compensation or leave under the FMLA.

The Department works with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) on a work share arrangement whenever there is a serious complaint as federal and Illinois laws are very similar. The Department of Human Rights is the best agency to file a complaint with unless you work in a larger workplace.

To file a complaint, you will need to complete a Complainant Information Sheet (CIS), outlining your complaint and attaching evidence that supports your complaint. This can be mailed, faxed or emailed to the IDHR. You can also attend an interview at an IDHR office where staff will determine whether a state law could have been broken.

Complaints will be investigated which may involve an attempt at mediation first before any determination that a breach of labor laws has taken place.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The EEOC can investigate the same breaches of employment law as the Illinois Department of Human Rights, as federal employment and anti-discrimination laws are similar to state laws. The main difference is that the EEOC only investigates complaints by employees in larger workplaces, i.e. of 15 or more employees. The EEOC only has a single office in Illinois, which is located in Chicago.

To file a complaint with the EEOC, you can do so through the agency’s online portal, in person at an EEOC office, or by phone. Phone contact is to determine whether the complaint can be investigated by the agency and must be followed up by filing online or in person.

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