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Department of Human Rights - RG 220 | Illinois State Archives

Name: Department of Human Rights - RG 220
Variant Name: Human Rights Commission

Historical Note:

Equal employment opportunity first was addressed in 1943 when the Governor appointed the Illinois Interracial Commission. This agency's name was changed to the Commission on Human Relations by the legislature in 1951; see RG 305.000. Responsibility shifted from mere study and reporting functions to receiving, investigating, and adjudicating complaints in 1961 when the Fair Employment Practices Commission was created to replace the Commission on Human Relations. This new agency was to reduce employment opportunity inequities based on race, color, religion, national origin, or ancestry. It was composed of five members appointed by the Governor. In addition to enforcing equal employment opportunity legislation it was responsible also for conducting relevant research concerning the problem and for promoting voluntary citizen compliance (L. 1961, pp. 1845-1854).

The Department of Equal Employment Opportunity was established by the General Assembly in 1978. This new department assumed equal employment opportunity and affirmative action programs which previously had been carried out by the state's Department of Personnel. For each state agency the Department of Equal Employment Opportunity implemented compliance procedures for the rules and regulations it promulgated. The new department investigated complaints, conducted public hearings regarding them, and issued recommendations for methods of remedy to those state agencies found not in compliance. In this work the department was aided by the Equal Employment Opportunity Advisory Council. The council was composed of fifteen interested public members who were appointed by the Governor (P.A. 80-1455, pp. 1740-1747).

A year later the department and its advisory council were replaced by the Department of Human Rights and the Human Rights Commission. The Department of Human Rights was created to enforce and the Human Rights Commission was made to adjudicate discrimination laws in state and local government as well as the private sector. Causes of discrimination were broadened to include race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, physical or mental handicap, and unfavorable discharge from military service in connection with employment, real estate transactions, access to financial credit, and public accommodations. Together the Department of Human Rights and the Human Rights Commission took over all of the functions of the Fair Employment Practices Commission and the Department of Equal Employment Opportunity (P.A. 81-1216, pp. 4867-4881).


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