The number of housing discrimination claims received by the Lincoln Commission on Human Rights (LCHR) doubled from 2009 to 2010, but the number of employment discrimination complaints dropped 17 percent. Those are some of the figures compiled in the LCHR annual report now available online at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: rights).
The 2010 LCHR annual report shows a total of 92 cases filed — 59 for employment discrimination, 27 for housing discrimination and six for public accommodation discrimination. That compares to 86 cases filed in the previous year — 71 for employment discrimination, 13 for housing discrimination and two for public accommodation discrimination.
"We believe the increase in housing complaints is due largely to LCHR's education and outreach efforts," said Margie Nichols, Civil Rights Investigator. "These important functions have been carried on by LCHR's AmeriCorps Volunteer Regina Grant and Hispanic Liaison Loren Mestre Roberts. They have been our voice to the community, freeing the two investigators to focus their attention on the reason LCHR exists: to investigate allegations of discrimination in Lincoln."
LCHR's two investigators, Nichols and Angela Lemke, closed 91 cases in 2010 (not all were filed in 2010). In addition to non-monetary resolutions, LCHR negotiated settlements of about $40,000. A service satisfaction survey sent to all complainants and respondents showed:
In 2010, LCHR reached more than 6,000 residents in about 100 sessions covering civil rights and responsibilities. The annual Fair Housing Conference was expanded in 2010 to include both an employment and public accommodation focus.
"I commend the Commissioners and staff for a very productive year," said Mayor Chris Beutler. "With the resignation of longtime Director Larry Williams, this has been a year of transition. Through reorganization, we've provided our fine investigators with the administrative support they need and have expanded our outreach efforts. Although Larry certainly left big shoes to fill, the Commissioners and staff have ensured the City's commitment to human rights remains firm."
The Human Rights Division is now under the supervision of City Attorney Rod Confer, and Mayoral Aide Milo Mumgaard is serving as Interim Civil Rights Officer. LCHR will soon move to the third floor of the County-City Building, where new offices are under construction adjacent to the City Attorney's Office. An open house is being planned for late spring.
More information about LCHR is available at 402-441-7624 or lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: rights).