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Few complaints filed in the year after Wichita’s nondiscrimination ordinance was enacted

Hugo Phan

No probable cause was found in the only complaint that's reached a conclusion through the new NDO process.

Since Wichita’s new nondiscrimination orderwent into effect at the beginning of last year, the city has completed an investigation into only one complaint.

The ordinance bans discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations based on factors such as age, race, religion, gender identity and sexual orientation.

Five complaints were filed in all of 2022, most of them between January and March. Three of those were thrown out and another is still under investigation.

Brandon Whipple advocated for the new ordinance when he became mayor in 2020.

He said the ordinance is working as intended, but the city could do better at communicating its purpose to citizens.

“Our process is more of a shield against discrimination and not really a sword to impose one's beliefs on someone else or to impose beliefs on private businesses, or really any space,” Whipple said.

According to documents provided by the city, the only complaint that has reached a conclusion alleged that an employee was religiously discriminated against while working at a local Walgreens.

The employee, who identified as a Christian, said he was asked to cover his religious tattoos and told to stop ministering to people while he was working. He’s since quit working at the retail pharmacy chain.

The city found no probable cause against Walgreens for retaliation or discrimination.

Violating the ordinance could result in up to $2,000 in penalties.

Whipple said with the city updating its website and technology this year, it hopes to educate residents on how or whether they should file a complaint.

“There's going to hopefully be some integration of how to file complaints, how do you ask for … guidance,” Whipple said. “We want to make sure that process is more streamlined and is more user-friendly.”

Kylie Cameron (she/her) is a general assignment reporter for KMUW. Before KMUW, Kylie was a digital producer at KWCH, and served as editor in chief of The Sunflower at Wichita State. You can follow her on Twitter @bykyliecameron.