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5 most common grounds for employment discrimination lawsuits in Nevada

Posted by Neil Shouse | Apr 24, 2018 | 0 Comments

Five of the most common grounds of employment discrimination lawsuits in Nevada are:

Termination

1. Exceptions to "at-will" employment

In general, Nevada employers may fire their employees at will, which means for any reason and at any time. In other words, employers can usually fire employees for no good reason with no legal repercussions...

But there are exceptions to "at will" employment, which can serve as the basis for wrongful termination lawsuits:

  • The firing would violate Nevada's public policies, such as if the firing was prejudice-based;[1]
  • There was an implied contract where the employer promised to fire the employee only for cause, such as reasons listed in an employee handbook;[2]
  • The firing would breach an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing;[3]

Depending on the results of the case, the terminated employee may be able to win damages for lost wages and benefits.

2. Wrongful termination for whistleblowing

Nevada law prohibits employers from terminating employees who report alleged health and safety violations. Wrongfully terminated employees can file a complaint with the Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration within 30 days of the firing. Depending on the outcome of the investigation, the former employee may be reinstated and reimbursed for lost benefits and wages.[4]

Nevada law also protects public officers and employees from whistleblower retaliation for reporting alleged improper governmental action. The fired employee would file an appeal with the Nevada Personnel Commission within two (2) years after the employee learns of the improper government action. Then the commission would conduct a hearing, and the employee could be reinstated and reimbursed for lost benefits and wages.[5]

3. Wrongful termination for claiming harassment or discrimination

Nevada law prohibits employers from firing an employee in retaliation for engaging in protected activities regarding discriminatory employment practices. For instance, it is not grounds for termination if an employee files a charge or assists in an investigation regarding workplace harassment.[6]

Depending on the outcome of the case, the wrongfully terminated employee could receive damages for lost benefits and wages.

4. Wrongful constructive discharge

There are some situations where the employer fires the employee in all but name. This occurs when the employee is still technically employed, but employee chooses to resign only because the working conditions have reached intolerable levels. This is called “constructive termination” or tortious discharge.

In order to prevail in a constructive termination lawsuit in Nevada, the former employee must prove the following five elements:

  1. The employee's resignation was induced by actions and working conditions by the employer which are so intolerable as to amount to firing despite a lack of termination. The actions of the employer violate public policy;
  2. There were objectively difficult or unpleasant working conditions to the extent that a reasonable employee would feel compelled to resign;
  3. The employer had actual or constructive knowledge of the intolerable actions and their impact on the employee;
  4. The situation could have been remedied by the employer; and
  5. The employers' wrongful actions caused the termination and resultant damages (such as loss of wages)

Depending on the outcome of the case, the wrongfully terminated employee could receive damages for lost benefits and wages.[7]

5. Wrongful termination for political activities

Nevada law prohibits employers from regulating employees' political activities or speech. So if an employer fires someone because of their political activities, the employee may have grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit.[8]

Depending on the outcome of the case, the wrongfully terminated employee could receive damages for lost benefits and wages.


Legal References

  1.  Vancheri v. GNLV Corporation, 105 Nev. 417, 777 P.2d 366 (1989)(“Employment ‘at-will' is a contractual relationship and thus governed by contract law. An employer can dismiss an at-will employee with or without cause, so long as the dismissal does not offend a public policy of this state.”).
  2. American Bank Stationery v. Farmer, 106 Nev. 698, 799 P.2d 1100 (1990)(“All employees in Nevada are presumed to be at-will employees. An employee may rebut this presumption by proving by a preponderance of the evidence that there was an expressed or implied contract between his employer and himself that his employer would fire him only for cause.”).
  3. A.C. Shaw Construction v. Washoe County, 105 Nev. 913, 784 P.2d 9 (1989)("'Every contract imposes upon each party a duty of good faith and fair dealing in its performance and its enforcement.'").
  4. NRS 618.445; 29 USC 660(c).
  5. NRS 281.641; NRS 281.645.
  6. NRS 613.340.
  7. Dillard Dept. Stores, Inc. v. Beckwith, 115 Nev. 372, 376, 989 P.2d 882 (1999); Martin v. Sears Roebuck & Co., 111 Nev. 923, 899 P.2d 551 (1995).
  8. NRS 613.040.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

Southern California DUI Defense attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT).

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