File a Complaint for a Violation of the Minimum Wage Ordinance
The Commission investigates and, if warranted, adjudicates violations of the Cook County Minimum Wage Ordinance. If you believe that you have been underpaid for work performed for an employer in Cook County, contact the Cook County Commission on Human Rights.
You may prepare your own complaint or have an attorney prepare one for you.
A complaint must contain the following:
- A statement of the facts alleged to constitute a violation of the Cook County Minimum Wage Ordinance;
- The date of the alleged violation;
- The city and state where the alleged discriminatory acts occurred;
- The basis of the discrimination (examples included below); and
- Signature of complainant or their attorney.
Your complaint must be filed with the Commission within 3 years of the date of the alleged violation. Please note that there is no charge or fee for filing a complaint.
Once you file a complaint with the Commission, the Commission may opt to proceed with the complaint in its own name. The Commission will tend to do this with cases that are supported by strong evidence and where it appears that many employees may have suffered the same or similar injuries.
The Commission notifies the respondent about the complaint and requires the respondent to submit a response admitting or denying each allegation of the complaint. The complaint is then assigned to an investigator who conducts a neutral fact-finding investigation that may include interviewing the parties and other witnesses, obtaining and reviewing documents and other physical evidence and submitting written questionnaires to you, the respondent and other witnesses.
It is important that you cooperate with the investigator assigned to your matter and provide them with the information they request at the time they request it. Failure to cooperate is grounds for dismissal of your case. In addition, please do not provide printed copies of pleadings, if they have been provided to the Commission via email (so as to minimize duplication).
In addition, because investigators are working on a number of cases simultaneously, the Commission asks that once you have a complaint on file, that you make an appointment if you need to speak with your investigator about your case or want to provide them with additional information regarding the case. This ensures that each Commission complaint receives an investigator's undivided attention and reduces delays in the investigative process across the Commission's entire docket.
At the end of the neutral fact-finding investigation, the Commission determines on the basis of the evidence whether a violation of the Cook County Minimum Ordinance has occurred.
Remedies and Relief
The Commission can order anyone who has violated the Cook County Minimum Wage Ordinance to pay back wages; to reinstate a wrongfully terminated complainant; to give a required notice or make a required posting; to disqualify a respondent from County benefits including licensing and property tax incentives; and to cease and desist violating the Ordinance. The Commission may also levy fines of $500.00 to $1,000.00 for each offense.
Examples of Minimum Wage Ordinance Violations
- Paying employees less than the applicable minimum wage.
- Confiscating gratuities of tipped employees.
- Charging employees bogus fees payable to the employer as a way of reducing their effective hourly rate of pay.
- Failing to notify employees of their rights under the Cook County Minimum Wage Ordinance.
- Failing to post a notice advising of the current minimum wages under the Cook County Minimum Wage (in a conspicuous place at each facility where any Covered Employee works that is located within the geographic boundaries of Cook County).
- Firing an employee who is considering filing a Minimum Wage complaint or otherwise cooperating with a Commission investigation.