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Few complaints filed in the year after Wichita’s anti-discrimination ordinance was enacted

Since Wichita’s new non-discrimination order went into effect early last year, the city has completed an investigation into just one complaint.

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

Five complaints were filed throughout 2022, most between January and March. Three of these have been thrown out and another is still under investigation.

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

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

“Our process is more of a shield against discrimination and not an actual sword to impose your 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 reached a conclusion involved an employee who was religiously discriminated against while working at a local Walgreens.

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

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

Violation of the ordinance could result in fines of up to $2,000.

Whipple said the city updated its website and technology this year, hoping to educate residents on how or if they should file a complaint.

“Hopefully there will be some integration of how to make complaints, how to ask for… directions,” Whipple said. “We want to make sure the process is leaner and more intuitive.”

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