Individuals may file complaints with the NEOC when they feel that they have been discriminated against in the areas of:
In cases where Federal law also applies, these charges may be also filed with the appropriate Federal agency (the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)) at the time when the original charge is taken.
Filing is the first step in the complaint process. Persons who believe they have been discriminated against should contact the NEOC as soon as possible following the alleged discrimination. If too much time elapses between the alleged harm and the filing of the charge, the NEOC will not have jurisdiction to investigate the charge.
From the date of alleged harm, the time limits for filing charges are:
Note: Federal filing deadlines may be different.
People contacting the NEOC to file a charge of discrimination will be referred to the agency's intake unit to set up an appointment. These staff members are trained to assist potential complainants in discerning whether particular alleged harms would be covered under the laws which the NEOC enforces. During the interview, the intake investigator will explain the relevant laws which the NEOC enforces and talk with the complainant about the law's relation to the alleged harm. The NEOC investigates charges of discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including pregnancy), disability, marital status, and age. The intake interviewer will help the complainant identify the basis of harm. Additionally, the intake staff will help explain various jurisdictional issues. If the complainant chooses to file a charge, the intake investigator will prepare a formal charge of discrimination which the complainant must sign and have notarized.
Service is the next step in the complaint process. Once the charge is filed (signed by the complainant and notarized) , the NEOC must serve the charge on the respondent within 10 days. Employment Respondents have 30 days from the day they receive the charge of discrimination to prepare their response and produce the documents requested at the time of service. Public Accommodations Respondents have 20 days to prepare their response and produce the documents at the time of service. Employment Respondents may request a 30 day extension to this response time. Such an extension will be granted only for good cause. Public accommodations respondents may request a 14 day extension. Housing Respondents have 10 days to prepare their response and produce the documents requested at the time of service. If such respondents require additional time to prepare, they must contact the assigned investigator directly.
At this time, both the complainant and the respondent will be offered an opportunity to participate in a pre-determination settlement process (PDS) or in mediation. If both parties agree, the case will be immediately given to someone who will facilitate settlement discussions. If either or both parties decline participation in the PDS or mediation process or if an attempted settlement fails, the Employment or Public Accommodations case file will be placed in the NEOC's case repository to await assignment for investigation. Housing cases are assigned for investigation at the time of service due to the statutory requirement which mandates the investigation be completed within 100 days.
Investigation is the next step in the complaint process. The Commission determines the appropriate level of investigation in each case. Both parties to the complaint will be notified in writing when the case is assigned to an investigator. The investigator will request information and documentation from both parties. Complainant and respondent witnesses may be interviewed. The investigator will share with both parties the information given by the other, for the purpose of clarification/verification. Each party will be given a chance to respond to the information provided by the other party and to give the investigator evidence to support their position.
Retaliation: Nebraska law requires that individuals who file a complaint, testify, assist, or otherwise oppose unlawful discrimination not be retaliated against.
Conclusion of the investigation is important. The investigator will review the allegations and the evidence gathered with the complainant. The investigator will also inform the respondent of the completion of the investigation and offer them an opportunity to furnish additional relevant evidence. The purpose of the final meeting, called a "pre-determination interview," is to ensure that each party is given a chance to understand what has transpired, what has been found and what, if anything, either party believes should be looked into further.
Determination is the final stage. The decision is made by the Executive Director in cases of employment discrimination other than age or equal pay complaints. The Commissioners make the decision by majority vote in all other cases. The Commissioners meet once a month. It is important to know that the investigator does not make the actual decision on the case. Only the Commissioners or the Executive Director can render such a decision. Both parties will receive a Formal Determination letter from the Commission which explains the decision that has been rendered and what subsequent actions, if any, will be or should be taken.