The City of Chicago has enacted two powerful anti-discrimination ordinances. The Chicago Human Rights Ordinance prohibits discrimination in employment, public accommodations, credit transactions, and bonding, as well as retaliation for filing a complaint at the Commission. The Chicago Fair Housing Ordinance prohibits housing discrimination. Both ordinances prohibit discrimination based on race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, disability, age (over 40), sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, parental status, marital status, military discharge status, and source of income.
The Commission on Human Relations may order a business or individual person who violates either ordinance to pay a fine up to $500 per incident, to pay damages and attorney fees to the complaining party, and to take specific actions to end discriminatory practices.
Commission staff can answer questions about filing a discrimination complaint and can help with drafting a complaint. After a complaint is filed, the Commission notifies each business or individual accused of discrimination by mail, with a deadline to submit a written response. The Commission investigates the complaint and decides whether there is “substantial evidence” of an ordinance violation. If “substantial evidence” is found, the case proceeds to an administrative hearing before a hearing officer and a final ruling by the Board of Commissioners. Board rulings can be reviewed and enforced through the state courts. Parties may settle a case at any time during the complaint adjudication process.