Human Rights Act
Now Adds Court Option
Will complainants who win
at the DHR elect to take it?
Now that the Illinois HRA has been amended to permit suit in court after the Department of Human Rights charge has been processed, will the complainants become plaintiffs in the state circuit courts?
This amendment, effective the first of the year, will almost certainly appeal to those who file charges that the DHR bounces. Whether the investigation yields an "LSE" (lack of substantial evidence) finding, or an "SE", the losing complainant can either seek review (as is the law currently) from the DHR Chief Legal Counsel or go to court within ninety days.
The complainant who wins can go to court or has fourteen days to request that a complaint issue at the HRC, and if the request is not made, the complainant can only sue in court. In either case, the winning complainant has the same ninety day deadline if going the lawsuit route.
How to compare the HRC proceeding with the circuit court? In the latter venue, complainants automatically will get expanded discovery (depositions as of right, for example) and juries, neither of which are available to them at the Commission.
One prediction is very safe: complainants whose charges go "LSE" at the Department of Human Rights will have nothing to lose but the filing fee and jury demand fee by jumping into circuit court. Since the overwhelming majority of DHR charges are dismissed for a lack of substantial evidence, meritless discrimination charges are sure to wind up in front of juries - unless employers get rid of them with motions for summary judgment.