48-1119. Unlawful practice; complaint; notice; hearing; witnesses; evidence; findings; civil action authorized; order.

(1) In case of failure to eliminate any unlawful employment practice by informal methods of conference, conciliation, persuasion, mediation, or arbitration, the commission may order a public hearing. If such hearing is ordered, the commission shall cause to be issued and served a written notice, together with a copy of the complaint, requiring the person, employer, labor organization, or employment agency named in the complaint, hereinafter referred to as respondent, to answer such charges at a hearing before the commission at a time and place which shall be specified in such notice. Such hearing shall be within the county where the alleged unlawful employment practice occurred. The complainant shall be a party to the proceeding, and in the discretion of the commission any other person whose testimony has a bearing on the matter may be allowed to intervene therein. Both the complainant and the respondent, in addition to the commission, may introduce witnesses at the hearing. The respondent may file a verified answer to the allegations of the complaint and may appear at such hearing in person and with or without counsel. Testimony or other evidence may be introduced by either party. All evidence shall be under oath and a record thereof shall be made and preserved. Such proceedings shall, so far as practicable, be conducted in accordance with the rules of evidence applicable in the district courts of the State of Nebraska, and shall be of public record.

(2) No person shall be excused from testifying or from producing any book, document, paper, or account in any investigation, or inquiry by, or hearing before the commission when ordered to do so, upon the ground that the testimony or evidence, book, document, paper, or account required of such person may tend to incriminate such person in or subject such person to penalty or forfeiture; but no person shall be prosecuted, punished, or subjected to any forfeiture or penalty for or on account of any act, transaction, matter, or thing concerning which such person shall have been compelled under oath to testify or produce documentary evidence, except that no person so testifying shall be exempt from prosecution or punishment for any perjury committed by such person in his or her testimony. Such immunity shall extend only to a natural person who, in obedience to a subpoena, gives testimony under oath or produces evidence, documentary or otherwise, under oath. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed as precluding any person from claiming any right or privilege available to such person under the fifth amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

(3) After the conclusion of the hearing, the commission shall, within ten days of the receipt of the transcript or the receipt of the recommendations from the hearing officer, make and file its findings of fact and conclusions of law and make and enter an appropriate order. The hearing officer need not refer to the page and line numbers of the transcript when making his or her recommendation to the commission. Such findings of fact and conclusions of law shall be in sufficient detail to enable a court on appeal to determine the controverted questions presented by the proceedings and whether proper weight was given to the evidence. If the commission determines that the respondent has intentionally engaged in or is intentionally engaging in any unlawful employment practice, it shall issue and cause to be served on such respondent an order requiring such respondent to cease and desist from such unlawful employment practice and order such other affirmative action as may be appropriate which may include, but shall not be limited to, reinstatement or hiring of employees, with or without backpay. Backpay liability shall not accrue from a date more than two years prior to the filing of the charge with the commission. Interim earnings or amounts earnable with reasonable diligence by the person or persons discriminated against shall operate to reduce the backpay otherwise allowable.

(4) A complainant who has suffered physical, emotional, or financial harm as a result of a violation of section 48-1104 or 48-1114 may, at any stage of the proceedings prior to dismissal, file an action directly in the district court of the county where such alleged violation occurred. If the complainant files a district court action on the charge, the complainant shall provide written notice of such filing to the commission, and such notification shall immediately terminate all proceedings before the commission. The district court shall file and try such case as any other civil action, and any successful complainant shall be entitled to appropriate relief, including temporary or permanent injunctive relief, general and special damages, reasonable attorney's fees, and costs.

(5) No order of the commission shall require the admission or reinstatement of an individual as a member of a labor organization or the hiring, reinstatement, or promotion of an individual as an employee, or the payment to him or her of any backpay, if such individual was refused admission, suspended, or expelled, or was refused employment or advancement or was suspended or discharged for any reason other than discrimination on account of race, color, religion, sex, disability, marital status, or national origin or in violation of section 48-1114. If the commission finds that a respondent has not engaged in any unfair employment practice, it shall within thirty days state its findings of fact and conclusions of law. A copy of any order shall be served upon the person against whom it runs or his or her attorney and notice thereof shall be given to the other parties to the proceedings or their attorneys. Such order shall take effect twenty days after service thereof unless otherwise provided and shall continue in force either for a period which may be designated therein or until changed or revoked by the commission.

(6) Except as provided in subsection (4) of this section, until a transcript of the record of the proceedings is filed in the district court as provided in section 48-1120, the commission may, at any time upon reasonable notice and in such a manner it shall deem proper, modify or set aside, in whole or in part, any finding or order made by it.

Source:Laws 1965, c. 276, § 19, p. 793; Laws 1973, LB 266, § 12; Laws 1977, LB 161, § 13; Laws 1993, LB 124, § 5; Laws 2003, LB 701, § 2; Laws 2018, LB193, § 84.