Filing a Discrimination Claim - Nebraska

1. What kinds of discrimination are against state law in Nebraska?

The Nebraska Fair Employment Act makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including pregnancy), disability, marital status, and retaliation. Nebraska's Act Prohibiting Unjust Discrimination in Employment Because of Age makes employment discrimination on the basis of age illegal for employees ages 40 to 70 only whose employer has 25 or more employees.

2. How do I file a discrimination claim in Nebraska?

In Nebraska, it is possible to file a discrimination claim either with the state administrative agency, the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission (NEOC) or the federal administrative agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The two agencies have what is called a work-sharing agreement, which means that the agencies cooperate with each other to process claims. Filing a claim with both agencies is unnecessary, as long as you indicate to one of the agencies that you want it to cross-file the claim with the other agency.

Some attorneys in Nebraska recommend that you file with the NEOC first for all types of discrimination claims, since it has offices in Nebraska and therefore is more convenient than the EEOC. Filing with the NEOC first is not required to file a discrimination claim in state court, but if you do not have an attorney, you may wish to see whether the NEOC can assist you in resolving your claim without filing in court. NEOC complaints must be filed within 180 days of the date you believe you were discriminated against.

To file a claim with the NEOC, contact your closest office below. More information about filing a claim with NEOC can be found at http://www.neoc.ne.gov/.

Lincoln Main Office
Nebraska State Office Building
301 Centennial Mall South, 5th Floor
P.O. Box 94934
Lincoln, NE 68509-4934
Phone: (402) 471-2024
Toll Free Number: (800) 642-6112
Fax: (402) 471-4059

Omaha
Downtown Education Center/
State Office Building
1313 Farnam Street, 3rd Floor
Omaha, NE 68102-1836
Phone: (402) 595-2028
Toll-free: (800) 382-7820
Scottsbluff
(Spanish speaker available)
Panhandle State Office Complex
4500 Avenue "I"
P.O. Box 1500
Scottsbluff, NE 69363-1500
Telephone: (308) 632-1340
Fax: (308) 632-1341

To file a claim with the EEOC, contact your local EEOC office below. More information about filing a claim with the EEOC can be found at http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/howtofil.html.

EEOC's Denver District Office
303 E. 17th Avenue
Suite 510
Denver, CO 80203
Phone: 303-866-1300
TTY: 303-866-1950

You may also wish to check with your city or county to see if you live and/or work in a city or county with a local anti-discrimination law, or ordinance. Some cities and counties in Nebraska (including Omaha) have agencies that process claims under local ordinances and may be able to assist you. These agencies are often called the Human Rights Commission, Human Relations Commission, or the Civil Rights Commission. Check your local telephone directory or government website for further information.

3. What are my time deadlines?

Do not delay in contacting the NEOC or EEOC to file a claim. There are strict time limits in which charges of employment discrimination must be filed. In order for these agencies to act on your behalf, you must file with the NEOC (or cross-file with the EEOC) within 180 days or the EEOC (or cross-file with the state agency) within 300 days of the date you believe you were discriminated against. However, as you might have other legal claims with shorter deadlines, do not wait to file your claim until your time limit is close to expiring. You may wish to consult with an attorney prior to filing your claim, if possible. Yet if you are unable to find an attorney who will assist you, it is not necessary to have an attorney to file your claim with the state and federal administrative agencies.

4. How can I or my attorney pursue a claim in court in Nebraska?

If your case is successfully resolved by an administrative agency, it may not be necessary to hire an attorney or file a lawsuit (to resolve your case, you probably will be required as to sign a release of your legal claims). If your case is not resolved by the NEOC or EEOC and you may want to continue to pursue the matter, you will need to pursue your claim in court. A federal employment discrimination case cannot be filed in court without first going to the EEOC, as discussed above, and having the EEOC dismiss your case. This process is called exhaustion of your administrative remedy. Exhaustion is not required to file a discrimination claim in court based on state law.

Because Nebraska's state antidiscrimination law does not allow for punitive damages (damages intended to punish the employer), many Nebraska attorneys choose to file employment discrimination cases in federal or state court but prefer to use federal law.

Once the EEOC issues the document known as Dismissal and Notice of Rights or Notice of Right to Sue (Form 161), only then can you file a case based upon your federal claim. A lawsuit based on your federal discrimination claim must be filed in federal or state court within 90 days of the date you receive the notice. (Be sure to mark down that date when you receive the notice.) After your case has been pending with the NEOC for 180 days, then you may request a similar right-to-sue notice from NEOC to file your state claim in court. Cases filed in Nebraska state court must be filed within 4 years of the date you believe you were discriminated against, regardless of whether you have filed with the NEOC. These deadlines are called the statute of limitations.

If you have received one of these agency notices, do not delay consulting with an attorney. If your lawsuit is not filed by the deadline, then you may lose your ability to pursue a discrimination case.