Traliant Resources


Equal Employment Opportunity


Please review the information below and the information on the Illinois Human Rights Act here. When you have reviewed both pages, please return to the workplace harassment prevention course tab.

Harassment and discrimination based on a protected characteristic are prohibited under both federal and state law.  The federal government and most state governments have agencies that help employers and employees understand these legal requirements and ensure compliance with the laws.

Protected Characteristics

Harassment or discrimination based on any protected characteristic set forth below is prohibited in Chicago.


  • race 

  • color

  • national origin

  • sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation and gender identity)

  • gender expression

  • disability

  • genetic information (including family medical history)

  • religion

  • age (40 and older)


  • race

  • color

  • national origin

  • ancestry

  • religion

  • age (over 40)

  • disability

  • criminal history

  • sex

  • gender identity

  • marital status

  • parental status

  • military status / military discharge status

  • lawful source of income

  • credit history

  • sexual orientation

  • creed or religion

  • marital or partnership status

Important Notes

In addition to the general protected characteristics listed above, some federal, state, and/or local laws also prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of other protected statuses in certain contexts, such as:

  • citizenship status or work authorization status,

  • emergency volunteer status,

  • family relationship with a co-worker, and/or

  • status based on information contained in criminal, background, or credit reports, or being subject to wage garnishments.

For example, discrimination based on credit history or lawful source of income is illegal under Chicago law.

Likewise, some federal, state, and/or local laws prohibit discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation for exercising certain legal rights such as:

  • participating in collective bargaining or union activities,

  • serving as a whistleblower pursuant to whistleblower laws,

  • filing a worker’s compensation or unemployment claim,

  • taking protected time off or protected leave,

  • engaging in certain off-duty activities.

Finally, under federal law and some state and/or local laws, employers may not limit or prohibit employees from using any language in the workplace unless there is a business necessity for the restriction.

Note also that some federal, state, and/or local laws provide additional, separate standards and remedies for certain prohibited conduct, such as laws addressing equal pay without regard to sex or other protected category or specifically addressing sexual harassment prevention measures.

Applicable Laws


The primary federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination include Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, The Age Discrimination in Employment ActThe Americans With Disabilities ActThe Equal Pay ActThe Uniformed Services and Employment and Reemployment ActThe Immigration and Nationality Act, and The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.

The U.S. Supreme Court held that Title VII protects individuals from employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, No. 17-1618 (U.S. June 15, 2020).


The primary state law prohibiting employment discrimination, including harassment, is the Illinois Human Rights Act. See the Illinois resources page for more information on the state laws prohibiting discrimination and harassment.


The primary city law prohibiting employment discrimination, including harassment, is the Chicago Human Rights Ordinance See also The Chicago Commission on Human Relations webpage maintained by the Chicago Commission on Human Relations (CCHR).

All persons who work in Chicago are protected by the Chicago Human Rights Ordinance, regardless of how they are compensated. 

The Chicago Human Rights Ordinance prohibits discrimination in hiring, classification, grading, discharge, discipline, compensation, or any other term or condition of employment.

The Chicago Human Rights Ordinance also prohibits your employer from making statements or asking questions during interviews or circulating job announcements that suggest a preference for or prejudice against individuals based on the law’s protected characteristics.

Sexual Harassment is Prohibited

Sexual harassment is a form of gender-based discrimination and can include unwanted sexual advances or requests for sexual favors. Anyone, regardless of their gender identity, can be a victim of sexual harassment.

The Chicago Human Rights Ordinance defines sexual harassment as any:

  • Unwelcome sexual advances or unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.
  • Requests for sexual favors or conduct of a sexual nature when:
    • submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an
      individual’s employment; or
    • submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for any
      employment decision affecting the individual; or
    • such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s work
      performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.
  • Sexual misconduct, which means any behavior of a sexual nature which also involves coercion, abuse of
    authority, or misuse of an individual’s employment position.

Prohibited harassment can be verbal, physical, or pictorial and can include:

    • Repeated, unwelcome sexually suggestive comments, gestures, e-mails, or pictures.
    • Unwelcome physical contact of a sexual nature.
    • Requests for sexual favors in exchange for an employment benefit such as a raise or promotion.
    • Subtle or direct threats that a sexual or personal relationship is required for employment, promotion, or other favorable treatment in the workplace.

Gender-based harassment can be a single or isolated incident of disparate treatment or repeated acts or behavior. Disparate treatment can manifest in harassment when the incident or behavior creates an environment or reflects or fosters a culture or atmosphere of sex stereotyping, degradation, humiliation, bias, or objectification. Gender-based harassment can include unwanted sexual advances or requests but does not have to be sexual in nature. For example, refusal to use a transgender employee’s name, pronouns, or title may constitute unlawful gender-based harassment.

Source:  Chicago Human Rights OrdinanceSee also CCHR: Stop Sexual Harassment.

Filing a Claim in Chicago

See CCHR: File a Discrimination Complaint.

If you believe you have been the victim of discrimination in Chicago, you may file a complaint with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations. The CCHR requires that the complaint be filed within one year of the last alleged act of discrimination. The alleged act of discrimination must have taken place in Chicago to be addressed by the CCHR.

You may visit the CCHR’s office during business hours to receive help drafting your complaint. Commission services are free of charge. To expedite the interview process, please bring all relevant information covered in the complaint, such as names, addresses, phone numbers of the people or organizations you are charging, and the exact dates of the events.

Contact Info

For more information on how to report discrimination, how to file a complaint, or about the complaint process:

call (312) 744-4111 (312) 744-1088 (TTY)

visit CCHR: File a Discrimination Complaint visit the office, located at 740 N. Sedgwick, Suite 400, Chicago, IL 60654.

Source:  CCHR: Where to File Employment Discrimination Claims.

See also the Illinois Equal Employment Opportunity page for details on how to contact state and federal agencies.

Retaliation Prohibited

It is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you or negatively affect your working conditions because you have:

  • opposed what you reasonably believed was unlawful harassment/discriminatory practice;

  • made a charge or filed a harassment/discrimination complaint with the CCHR, your employer, or any other agency; or

  • testified, assisted, or participated in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing relating to something prohibited by the Chicago Human Rights Ordinance protects you against retaliation as long as you have a reasonable, good faith belief that the employer’s conduct is illegal, even if it turns out that you were mistaken.

SourceChicago Human Rights Ordinance.

The information contained on this page is for informational purposes only.
It does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.