The Attorney General’s Civil Rights Bureau protects the civil rights of all Illinois residents. The Civil Rights Bureau does not represent individuals; we represent the interests of the people of the State of Illinois. The Bureau monitors, investigates, and enforces civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination on behalf of the state. The Bureau also works to strengthen the civil rights laws and participates in community outreach programs.
Illinois legislation gives the office the authority to:
- Address patterns and practices of discrimination in housing, public accommodations (including education), employment, and financial services.
- Address patterns and practices of unlawful or unconstitutional conduct by police departments or county corrections, including violations of the Freedom from Drone Surveillance Act.
- Bring civil hate crimes lawsuits under the Illinois hate crimes statute.
- Monitor the compliance of public and private colleges and universities in Illinois with the Preventing Sexual Violence in Higher Education Act.
- Enforce and monitor compliance with the Illinois Trust Act and VOICES Act, which govern law enforcement interactions with immigrant communities.
File a Civil Rights or Hate Crime Complaint
The Attorney General encourages individuals to contact the office to report hate crimes, possible patterns or practices of discrimination or harassment, and other matters under the office’s civil rights authority by submitting a complaint below. If you have questions, you may email the Civil Rights Bureau staff at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Civil Rights Hotline at 1-877-581-3692.
Upholding Constitutional Policing Practices
Chicago Police Department Consent Decree
A federal court judge approved a consent decree to reform the Chicago Police Department (CPD). The consent decree is the result of a lawsuit brought by the Attorney General’s Office against the City of Chicago following the U.S. Department of Justice’s investigation that found the Chicago Police Department engaged in a pattern of civil rights violations. The consent decree requires reforms that provide the guidance and support police officers need to practice safe and constitutional policing and build trust between community residents and police.
Joliet Police Department Investigation
Attorney General Kwame Raoul announced on September 8, 2021 that he opened a civil investigation into the Joliet Police Department (JPD). The civil investigation follows requests made by the Joliet mayor and members of the Joliet City Council. The investigation will assess whether JPD engages in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing. Career attorneys are carrying out the investigation with assistance from experienced law enforcement, legal, and data experts. Attorney General’s Office staff are also seeking input from all areas of the Joliet community.
Countering Hate Crimes with Justice
A hate crime is an offense where a person or a group of people is targeted because of their actual or perceived identity. Illinois hate crime laws protect people who are targeted based on characteristics like race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or physical or mental disability.
The Attorney General’s Office:
- upholds laws against crimes and bias-based violence
- holds the authority to bring civil hate crime claims
- trains law enforcement partners on how to support victims and prosecute hate crimes
Protecting Reproductive Rights
The Illinois Attorney General upholds Illinois laws so that individuals can make personal decisions about their reproductive health care needs, protect their rights, and ensure the freedoms that are at the core of our democracy.
Defending Immigration Rights
The Attorney General’s Office upholds just immigration policies and educates Illinois’ immigrant communities about their rights and important services. The Civil Rights Bureau enforces and monitors compliance with the Illinois Trust Act and VOICES Act, which govern law enforcement interactions with immigrant communities. The OAG also is a certifying agency under the VOICES Act. Individuals seeking assistance with U- and T-visa certification requests from victims of qualifying criminal activity that was detected, investigated, or prosecuted by the Illinois Attorney General’s Office can follow the link below to learn how to submit a certification request to the office.
Preventing Sexual Violence in Higher Education
The prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses is deeply troubling. While many students experience sexual assault during college, incidents often are not reported to authorities for fear of not being believed or taken seriously.
This office initiated the Preventing Sexual Violence in Higher Education Act, which sets standards to address sexual violence at higher education institutions throughout the state. This office also oversees the annual reporting that the law requires of all Illinois colleges and universities.
Safeguarding Students’ Rights Related to School Discipline Policies
The Attorney General’s Office and the Illinois State Board of Education (“ISBE”) jointly issued guidance to public K-12 school districts in Illinois regarding legal standards and enforcement of civil rights laws related to school discipline.
The guidance is a resource to schools regarding their obligations under state and federal civil rights laws to administer student discipline policies without discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and other protected characteristics.
The Attorney General’s Office is committed to protecting the civil rights of all Illinois residents, including students’ rights to full and equal access to school services and facilities. The Attorney General’s Office encourages all schools to consider this guidance as they undertake their annual review of their discipline policies and the implementation of those policies.
Addressing Anti-LGBTQ+ Violence and Harassment
Attorney General Kwame Raoul, Governor JB Pritzker and Illinois Department of Human Rights Director Jim Bennett jointly issued a letter addressing safety concerns from public officials after recent incidents of anti-LBGTQ+ violence, harassment and threats directed toward public officials and community members. Public officials are encouraged to work with law enforcement to monitor and address safety concerns. Some public officials may have faced threats or harassment concerning LGBTQ+ events or have been pressured to deny LGBTQ+ events due to fears of civil disturbance or public safety concerns. However, public officials must also ensure targeted groups are not penalized or excluded from public spaces. Illinois has clear non-discrimination policies to protect and safeguard LGBTQ+ Illinoisans in public spaces.