Employment Discrimination Clinic Files Brief On Sovereign Immunity in the Illinois Appellate Court
The Employment Discrimination Clinic recently wrote and filed a Brief in consolidated appeal of two cases in the Illinois Appellate Court. The Clinic’s clients each sued the State of Illinois, in its capacity as their employer, for employment discrimination. The cases were both dismissed below on jurisdictional grounds; specifically, the State alleged and the lower courts agreed that the doctrine of sovereign immunity prevented the suits against the State from continuing.
In the Brief, written by Cheryl Nolan (2012) under the supervision of Clinical Professor Randall Schmidt, the Clinic argues that the Illinois General Assembly effectively waived the State’s sovereign immunity in the Illinois Human Rights Act (“IHRA”) when the IHRA was originally enacted in 1980. The IHRA protects most Illinois employees, including state employees, from discrimination in employment. Before 2008, employees who were victims of unlawful employment discrimination could file an action against their employers, including the State, in two administrative agencies of the
State: the Illinois Department of Human Rights, which would investigate the claim, and the Illinois Human Rights Commission (“HRC”), which would conduct a trial on the merits of the claim if the Department’s investigation disclosed substantial evidence of discrimination. If the HRC ruled in favor o