Governor Rauner Introduces Order to Address Human Rights Violations

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Though workplace discrimination and harassment are illegal, a difficult complaints process has created a backlog preventing many victims from receiving justice.

To address the backlog, Governor Bruce Rauner issued Executive Order 18-08 on June 20th. The order seeks to expedite these human rights cases and ensure all are addressed in a timely manner.

As Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) Director Janice Glenn noted, “This backlog must be addressed so that the victims of discrimination and harassment can receive the legal assistance they deserve. This executive order will ensure that all harassment and discrimination cases receive due process.” 

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The backlog has grown nearly every year since 2008, with over 1,000 cases currently waiting at the Illinois Human Rights Commission (IHRC). The cases describe instances of discrimination and equal-opportunity infringements, and the current administrative process can take up to four years. Many of the complainants have financial issues or lack legal representation, and the backlog prevents them from receiving the assistance they need.

Governor Rauner’s order gives the IHRC 60 days to create an 18-month plan to address all cases and eliminate the backlog. It also demands a streamlined process with more transparent reporting and tracking of backlogs, which should ensure a more efficient system going forward. New legislation and policies will improve case transfers between the IDHR and the IHRC, including “Rapid Results” training, a new case management system, and a report delivered to the Governor and General Assembly each year about progress.

Governor Rauner also appointed Philip Dalmage as Executive Director of the IHRC, who will manage these changes. Dalmage is a former Chief Administrative Law Judge at the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and served as the Director of the Business Enterprise Program at the Illinois Department of Human Services.

“I’m confident that under the new leadership of Executive Director Dalmage, all of the goals of this executive order will be met in a swift manner,” Governor Rauner noted.

In Dalmage’s own words, “I am aware of the long and storied history of the Illinois Human Rights Act in Illinois and look forward to using this role to adjudicate civil rights violations in as fair, just, and expeditious a manner as possible.”

For anyone facing sexual harassment or discrimination, it is essential that human rights laws not only create penalties for offenders but are backed with administrative systems to enforce them. As women from all walks of life, we understand the importance of ensuring justice for victims of harassment, and we applaud Governor Rauner for taking this important step toward deterring human rights abuses.

 
 
 
 
hayley bierkle