What Can I Do If I Have Been Unlawfully Discriminated Against?**
The Peoria NAACP often receives information concerning racial or other unlawful discrimination. The Peoria NAACP is always concerned with any discrimination that occurs within the Peoria community. As such, the branch encourages those who have been discriminated against to submit a complaint to the branch, either online, in person, or other the phone. Please keep in mind, however, that the Peoria NAACP does not give legal advice, nor will the Peoria NAACP commence legal action on your behalf.
If you have been the victim of unlawful discrimination, you may want to consider filing a charge of discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (“IDHR”) and/or the Equal Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). The IDHR is the state agency responsible for enforcing the Illinois Human Rights Act ("IHRA"). The IHRA prohibits discrimination in a variety of areas, including employment, fair housing, financial credit, public accommodations, and sexual harassment in education. The EEOC is the federal agency responsible for enforcing laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of race or other legally protected category (e.g., color, religion, sex, age, disability, etc.). You do not need an attorney in order to file a charge of discrimination with the IDHR or EEOC.
If you have been discriminated against in an educational setting, you may be able to file a complaint of discrimination with the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”). The OCR enforces several federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance from the Department of Education. Discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin is prohibited by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; sex discrimination is prohibited by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; discrimination on the basis of disability is prohibited by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; and age discrimination is prohibited by the Age Discrimination Act of 1975. These civil rights laws enforced by OCR extend to all state education agencies, elementary and secondary school systems, colleges and universities, vocational schools, proprietary schools, state vocational rehabilitation agencies, libraries, and museums that receive U.S. Department of Education funds.
Charges of discrimination may be filed with the IDHR in person at an IDR office or in writing. Instructions on how to file a charge of discrimination with the IDHR can be found on the IDHR’s website at: https://www.illinois.gov/dhr/FilingaCharge/Pages/default.aspx.
Charges of discrimination may be filed with the EEOC online, in person at an EEOC field office, or by mail. Instructions on how to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC can be found on the EEOC’s web site at: https://www.eeoc.gov/employees/charge.cfm.
Charges of discrimination may be filed with the OCR by mail, electronic mail, facsimile, or online. Instructions on how to file a charge of discrimination with the OCR can be found at the OCR’s website at: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/howto.html.
It is important to keep in mind that there are strict time requirements for filing charges of discrimination with the IDHR, EEOC, and OCR. Typically, charges of discrimination must be filed with the IDHR within 180 days of the date the discrimination occurred (or within one year in a fair housing case). Charges of discrimination must be filed with the EEOC within 300 days of the date the discrimination occurred. Charges of discrimination typically must be filed with the OCR within 180 days of the date discrimination occurred; however, if you file an internal grievance process with the educational institution, then the OCR complaint must be filed within 60 days after completion of the grievance process.
** DISCLAIMER: The information contained above is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Although the Peoria NAACP goes through great lengths to ensure that the above information is accurate and useful, you should rely first on the applicable statutes and case law within your jurisdiction, as well as any applicable administrative regulations. It is recommended that you consult an attorney if you want legal advice.