SPRINGFIELD — To expedite discrimination case decisions and clear the backlog of claims, the Senate recently approved State Senator Heather Steans' ( D-Chicago ) measure to restructure the Human Rights Commission.
"The Human Rights Commission is an important avenue for individuals who have been discriminated against or harassed to resolve their complaints," Steans said. "Due to the current structure and process, a backlog of cases has developed over time. To expedite cases, I worked to restructure the commission to ensure that cases are addressed quickly and efficiently."
Senate Bill 20 would change the Human Rights Commission from 13 part-time commissioners to seven full-time, dedicated commissioners. Additionally, it creates a temporary three-person panel to address the backlog of cases. To prevent a future buildup of cases, it streamlines the administrative process and removes duplicative steps.
In March 2017, Gov. Bruce Rauner issued an executive order to consolidate the Human Rights Commission with the Department of Human Rights. However, the executive order did not take effect following the House's passage of a resolution disapproving the order.
"This legislation supports both employees and employers. It is the result of extensive negotiations to address issues with the governor's executive order," Steans said. "The governor's order would have given one organization the power to both investigate and judge discrimination cases."
Senate Bill 20 extends the time individuals can file a claim from 180 days to 300 days, consistent with federal laws. It also requires the Human Rights Department and Commission to publish its decision, creating a precedent on rulings for future cases.