Employment Discrimination Laws in Illinois

Employment discrimination against protected classes in Illinois is illegal.

Updated by , J.D., University of Missouri School of Law

Federal and state law prohibit Illinois employers from discriminating against employees based on certain characteristics, such as race or religion. (To learn more, see our page on employment discrimination and harassment.)

What Are the Protected Classes in Illinois?

In all 50 states, federal law makes it illegal to discriminate based on:

  • race
  • color
  • national origin
  • religion
  • sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions)
  • gender identity
  • sexual orientation
  • disability
  • age (40 and older)
  • citizenship status, and
  • genetic information.

In addition, Illinois state law also prohibits discrimination based on:

  • marital status
  • citizenship status
  • military and veteran status
  • unfavorable military discharge
  • arrest record
  • victims of domestic violence
  • status as being under an order of protection, and
  • lack of a permanent mailing address or using the mailing address of a shelter or social service provider.
Several cities in the U.S. have their own laws protecting additional characteristics or extending protection to more employees. Contact your local government to learn more.

Which Illinois Employers Are Subject to the Antidiscrimination Laws?

Federal antidiscrimination laws apply to Illinois employers with 15 or more employees, with the following exceptions:

  • age discrimination (employers with 20 or more employees)
  • citizenship status discrimination (employers with four or more employees), and
  • equal pay for men and women (all employers).

In Illinois, companies with 15 or more employees are subject to all provisions of the state's antidiscrimination law. Employers with one or more employees must comply with the law's provisions regarding disability discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, and sexual harassment.

What Government Agency Regulates Workplace Discrimination in Illinois?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency that regulates workplace discrimination. You can contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at 800-669-4000 or check out its website at www.eeoc.gov. The website will help you locate an EEOC field office in Illinois. (See our article on filing a discrimination claim with the EEOC.)

The Department of Human Rights enforces state antidiscrimination law in Illinois. You can contact the Department of Human Rights at 312-814-6200 or go to its website.

How Do I File an Employment Discrimination Claim in Illinois?

In Illinois, you can file an employment discrimination charge in one of two ways. You can either file a complaint with the federal EEOC, or you can file one with the Illinois Department of Human Rights.

In either case, you usually have 300 days from the most recent incident of discrimination to file a charge.

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