Respond to a Discrimination Complaint Filed Against You
The Commission on Human Relations receives, investigates, and rules on discrimination complaints filed under the Chicago Human Rights Ordinance and Chicago Fair Housing Ordinance. For more information about the kinds of discrimination these ordinances prohibit and what remedies the Commission can order if a respondent if found in violation, please see Discrimination Cases as well as the applicable Ordinances and Regulations.
Who may file a discrimination complaint?
Anyone who believes he or she has been personally harmed by a violation of the Chicago Human Rights Ordinance or the Chicago Fair Housing Ordinance may file a discrimination complaint at the Commission on Human Relations. The Commission’s Enabling Ordinance requires that we receive, investigate, and rule on each complaint filed. See Sec. 2-120-510(e),(f),(g), and (l), Chicago Municipal Code.
Accepting a complaint for filing does not mean the Commission has decided an ordinance violation occurred. The complaint only triggers a neutral investigation and adjudication process which leads to such a decision. Although the Commission on Human Relations opposes and works to eliminate all forms of discrimination, it decides whether an ordinance violation occurred and orders remedies only after all sides have had an opportunity to be heard under the established procedures and only based on the evidence presented and the applicable law.
Notice to respondents after a complaint is filed
If a discrimination complaint is filed against you, normally you will receive notice by U.S. Mail within ten days of the filing, at the address the complainant listed for you in the complaint. This mailing includes a copy of the complaint, a deadline for submitting a written response, notice of your obligations as a respondent, and the following publication and forms to help you respond:
Why it is important to respond
Participating in the Commission’s neutral complaint adjudication process is your opportunity to have your position considered. Knowing and complying with Commission procedures can protect and your business.
On the other hand, serious financial and other consequences can result if you fail to respond to a complaint or fail to comply with other regulations, notices, or orders of the Commission. Penalties include default, fines, and costs including attorney fees. For more information, see the Commission’s procedural Regulations, especially Section 210.200, Section 210.400, Subpart 235, Reg. 240.130, and Section 240.400. Complainants face similar penalties for their procedural violations, including dismissal of the case.
How to respond to a complaint
A complete written response contains:
- Full identification and contact information for each respondent.
- Statements admitting or denying each fact alleged in the complaint.
- A brief statement of position and defenses.
- The signature and sworn certification of each respondent submitting the response, as described in Reg. 210.240.
- All supporting documentation to be considered in the investigation.
- A certificate of service as described in Reg. 270.210.
The forms listed above can guide you in preparing your response. See Reg. 210.250 for details.
An original and one copy of your response must be filed with the Commission. Items 1-4 must also be served on the complainant and every other respondent. See Filing and Serving Documents and Section 270.200 of the Commission’s Regulations.
You are not required to have an attorney but it is always recommended. You must follow established procedures whether or not you have an attorney. See Attorney Representation and Section 270.300 of the Commission’s Regulations.
For more information on the procedures respondents must follow, see the Commission’s publication Information for Respondents, Part 200 of the Commission’s Regulations, and the other information provided on this web site.