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Discrimination/Harassment Law Overview

Employment Discrimination in the Workplace - Overview of the Law

Various laws protect employees and citizens from discrimination and harassment. Our citizens, residents and workers are entitled to an environment that is free of discrimination and harassment due to their membership in a protected class. The law does not permit an employer or others to treat an individual differently or intimidate them for belonging to a protected class (e.g. sex, race, color, national origin, religion, age disability, color and other basis). 

The laws against discrimination and harassment extend beyond employment. They also apply to  housing, public accommodations, credit transactions and higher education.  Coverage extends to labor organizations, employment agencies, and businesses operating in the state of Illinois. Cook County and City of Chicago ordinances apply to businesses and, in some instances, individuals within Cook County and the City of Chicago, respectively.

Violations of the anti-discrimination law may result in an award of damages to the victim, including compensatory damages, back pay, reinstatement and punitive damages.  Discrimination victims are also protected from retaliation for complaining about or resisting discrimination. Different administrative agencies and courts are responsible for enforcing anti-discrimination and harassment laws. Each agency and/or court has different provisions for coverage and damages that are authorized. In some instances, victims may file a charge with more than one agency.

Click here for an explanation of the various laws, the relevant agencies, the requirements for coverage and damages that may be award to victims. This chart may assist in determining the appropriate agency to handle your complaint or charge of discrimination.

Click here for questions you may be asked to determine if you have a harrassment case.


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