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Section 13-116 in the Omaha Municipal Code prohibits retaliation or penalization of a person because that person has filed a charge of discrimination, has complained of alleged practices or policies of discrimination or has assisted a fair employment practices agency. Consequently, a person has a right to file a charge of discrimination with the Omaha Human Rights and Relations Department.  Even if this agency or a court of law finds the charge is unfounded, you may be in violation of the law for your conduct which occurs after you become aware of the charge or complaint and which adversely affects the person complaining of the alleged discrimination.  The Omaha Human Rights and Relations Department has prepared the following checklist to be used as a guide in avoiding retaliation problems.

1. Do not treat complaining employees/persons differently than non-complaining employees/persons in the terms and conditions of employment.  This difference in treatment may consist of:

a. undue surveillance;

b. unfavorable letters of recommendation or references;

c. denying benefits and privileges;

d. contesting unemployment compensation claims;

e. disciplining complaining employees more harshly than non-complaining employees for similar conduct or conduct usually ignored;

f. placing unjustified reports in a complaining employee's personnel file;

g. excluding complimentary letters or positive evaluations from personnel files;

h. extending probationary periods.

i. assigning complaining employees extra and/or unpleasant work which they don't normally perform.

2. When asked for a job reference do not tell the prospective employer that the person in question has filed a charge of discrimination against you.  While it is true that an employer may give a bad reference if such reference is in fact true, the employer must be prepared to show documented evidence that the reference is true and the employer's practice is to give bad references for other employees who have not complained.

3. Do not refuse to hire or recall a person for the reason he/she complained or filed a discrimination charge.

4. Do not discharge an employee for the reason he/she complained or filed a discrimination charge.

5. Do not treat an employee differently because of his association with other employees, spouses or friends who are protected under the law or who engage in activities protected under the law.

6. OHRRD will carefully scrutinize an employment decision that occurs shortly after an employee complains or after you know of the discrimination charge.

7. Do not initiate policies which have the effect of stifling the employee's right to advise co-workers of their civil rights to complain to anyone about discriminatory practices and to participate in public demonstrations about discrimination in the industry.

8. Do not withhold wages of employees who take work time to testify in governmental investigation if you compensate others for jury duty or other absences.

9. Do not transfer or demote an employee because he/she has complained of discrimination, even if there is no loss of pay.

10. Review your policies and rules. Employees should not need permission before they can cooperate with government investigations of discrimination. Non-supervisory workers should feel free to assist in government investigations of discrimination.

11. Conduct your own investigation and question employees regarding the alleged discrimination.

12. Although you may discharge an employee for poor job performance or violation of company rules, make sure you have treated the discharged employee the same as other employees. Be prepared to justify your treatment of the discharged employee.

13. Publish and disseminate policies explaining employee rights to complain and/or file charges, as well as the company's policy prohibiting retaliation.

Although the above information pertains to most employment related situations, Section 13-116 of the Omaha Municipal Code also prohibits housing related retaliatory actions.  The following lists the most common areas where retaliation may occur.

     a. rental/leasing

     b. sale

     c. eviction

     d. harassment

     e. segregated units

     f. service

     g. pricing

     h. deposits

Remember that retaliation itself is a violation of the Omaha Municipal Code. The penalties for a violation of the Omaha Civil Rights Anti-Discrimination Ordinance include among others, money damages and reinstatement.

In order to avoid retaliation problems, the rule of thumb is to treat complaining employees in the same manner as those employees who have not complained or filed a discrimination charge.