Updated June 15, 2020
Workers and job applicants may file an employment discrimination lawsuit in Nevada if their employers discriminate against them on the basis of their:
- race or color,
- national origin,
- sex (including pregnancy),
- gender identity or expression,
- sexual orientation, or
Victims of employment discrimination in Nevada can file the claim against either the:
If the case cannot be resolved through the claim process, then the victim is free to bring a civil lawsuit in pursuit of compensatory damages in Nevada, punitive damages in Nevada, and possibly job reinstatement.
In this article, our Las Vegas labor law attorneys discuss how to file employment discrimination claims in Nevada. Scroll down or click on a topic below:
- 1. What forms of employment discrimination are illegal in Nevada?
- 2. What are the bases of a discrimination claim?
- 3. What employers are subject to employment discrimination laws?
- 4. How to file an employment discrimination claim
- 5. Remedies
Discrimination against employees occurs when an employer chooses not to hire, assign, or promote employees or job applicants for certain prejudicial reasons. Specifically, both federal and Nevada state law prohibit discrimination against employees based on either:
- race or color,
- national origin,
- religion, or
- gender identity or expression or
- sexual orientation2
As discussed below, discrimination against employees for the aforementioned reasons is against the law (with limited exceptions). Victims of employment discrimination may be entitled to money damages and/or job reinstatement.
It is unlawful for certain employers to discriminate against job applicants and employees on either of the following bases:
- race or color
- national origin
- sex (including pregnancy)
- gender identity or expression
- sexual orientation
2.1. Race or color
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — as well as Nevada law — prohibit discrimination on the basis of race or color. Therefore, employees and job applicants may not be deprived of equal employment opportunity due to them being:
- African-American (black),
- Hispanic (brown),
- Asian (Arabic, Indian, East-Asian, etc.),
- American Indian or Alaska Native
- Native American or Other Pacific Islander
- Any other race or color
- Associated with anyone of a particular race or color
Nevada law also prohibits employers from making personnel decisions based on racial stereotypes or characteristics, such as hair textures, or facial features. And employers may be liable for causing hostile work environments in Nevada by making racial slurs or harassing people based on their race.
Note that employers may ask for job applicants’ race for a legitimate purpose such as implementing affirmative action.
2.2. National origin
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — as well as Nevada law — prohibit discrimination on the basis of national origin. Therefore, employees and job applicants may not be deprived of equal employment opportunity due to their:
- linguistic characteristics
- association with a people of a certain national origin
- attendance or participation in schools, places of worship, or other associations associated with a national origin group
Employers can require employees to speak only English on the job if it is necessary for conducting business. And employers can deny employment to someone because of their accent for non-discriminatory reasons.
The ADEA (Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967) and Nevada law prohibit certain employers from discriminating against employees and job applicants who are 40 or older. With some exception, it is also unlawful for apprenticeship programs to discriminate against people 40 and above.
Job postings usually may not include age preferences unless age is a “bona fide occupational qualification”. But employers may inquire after a job applicant’s age unless it is for a discriminatory purpose.
Older employers are also entitled to equal benefits as younger employees. However, employers are permitted to reduce benefits on the basis of age as long as the price of providing that reduced benefit equals the price of providing benefits to younger employees.
Employees may waive their age discrimination rights by signing a waiver, but it must meet strict federal standards.
2.4. Sex (including pregnancy)
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — as well as Nevada law — prohibit employers with 15 or more workers to engage in discrimination against employees (or job applicants) on the basis of gender. Also illegal are policies that disproportionately exclude certain genders and are not related to legitimate employment purposes.
Workplace sexual harassment in Nevada is also prohibited, and it makes no difference if the harasser is female or if the harassment is same-sex. And the Equal Pay Act of 1963 mandates that men and women receive equal pay for equal work in the same workplace. (Nevada Senate Bill 166 (2019))
Also see our articles on non-sexual workplace harassment in Nevada and quid pro quo workplace sexual harassment in Nevada.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — as well as Nevada law — prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical issues. Therefore, employers must not take pregnancy into account when making hiring or other employment decisions as long as the pregnant woman can still carry out the job’s essential functions.
When a pregnant worker takes maternity leave, the employer must hold her job for her for the same amount of time it would for an employee on sick or disability leave. And if the employer provides health insurance, it must cover costs for pregnancy-related conditions on the same basis as costs for non-pregnancy medical conditions.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — as well as Nevada law — prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion. Therefore, employees and job applicants may not be deprived of equal employment opportunity due to being:
- Buddhist, or
- any other faith, whether widespread or not
Employers are expected to make reasonable accommodations for employees’ and prospective employees’ religious beliefs unless doing so would cause an “undue hardship.”
2.6. Gender identity or expression
The law prohibits employers with 15 or more workers from discriminating against employees or prospective employers on the basis of their gender identity or expression. In other words, it is unlawful to discriminate against employees who are transsexual, non-binary, or other gender type, and who express themselves as such with their appearance and mannerisms.
Therefore, the law also prohibits employers from making personnel decisions based on gender stereotypes or assumptions. Employers may not segregate or isolate employees or inflict other “disparate treatment” due to their gender identity or expression. And employees should be permitted to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.
Certainly, employers can require employees to adhere to certain grooming standards as long as they apply to everybody equally.
2.7. Sexual orientation
The law prohibits employers with 15 or more workers from discriminating against employees or prospective employers on the basis of sexual orientation. In other words, employers cannot disqualify or fire otherwise qualified employees for being homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, or asexual.
It is also against the law for employers to harass an employee based on their sexuality in a way that creates a hostile work environment or thwarts the employee from doing his/her work. It makes no difference if the harassment is verbal, physical, or in the form of discriminatory job policies.
The ADA (American with Disabilities Act) — as well as Nevada law — prohibit employers from discriminating against people with disabilities. The definition of a disabled person is a person with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits at least one major life activity (such as walking or seeing).
The law requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for disabled employers as long it would not pose an “undue hardship” on the business’s operation. Courts determine whether an accommodation is an undue hardship by considering such factors as:
- the employer’s size,
- the employer’s financial resources, and
- the nature and structure of the employer’s operation
Note that employers are not permitted to ask job applicants if they have disabilities, only about their ability to perform certain job functions.
Not all employers are subject to discrimination laws. And Nevada state law differs slightly from federal law.3
Note that nearly all employers must abide by the Equal Pay Act (EPA), which prohibits paying different wages to men and women if they do largely equivalent work in the same workplace.
3.1. Private employers
In general, private employers may be liable for discrimination against employees if they employ at least 15 employees for at least 20 weeks in the past year. In federal age discrimination cases, the minimum number of employees is 20.
3.2. State and local government agencies
In general, state and local government agencies may be liable for discrimination against employees if they employ at least 15 employees for at least 20 weeks in the past year. In federal age discrimination cases, all agencies may be liable no matter the size.
3.3. Federal agencies
All federal agencies may be liable for discrimination against employees, no matter the size.
3.4. Employment agencies
All employment agencies may be liable for discrimination against employees, no matter the size.
3.5. Labor unions
In general, labor unions may be liable for discrimination against employees if they operate a hiring hall or have at least 15 members. In federal age discrimination cases, the minimum number of members is 25.4
Employment discrimination cases typically progress through four stages:
- Filing a claim with the proper administrative agency
- Mediation (not mandatory)
- Settling the claim (if mediation does not work)
- Filing a lawsuit (if the claim could not be settled)
It is important that claimants keep all evidence of the alleged discrimination, including any recordings and written communications.
4.1. Filing a claim
Depending on the case, the discrimination victim may consider filing a claim with either of the following administrative agencies:
- Nevada Equal Rights Commission (NERC), or
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
Claimants need not file a claim with both agencies. Instead, it may be possible to “cross-file” the claim so that both the state and federal agencies cooperate together to investigate the claims. A labor law attorney can help the claimant decide which agency is best to file a claim with.
The NERC website provides instructions for filing an employment discrimination claim in Nevada. Claimants may file claims online, over the phone, by mail, or in person at a NERC office:
Las Vegas NERC Office
1820 East Sahara Ave., Suite 314
Las Vegas, NV 89119
Phone: (702) 486-7161
Fax: (702) 486-7054
Reno NERC Office
1325 Corporate Blvd., Room 115
Reno, NV 89509
Phone: (775) 823-6690
Fax: (775) 688-1292
The EEOC website also provides instructions for filing an employment discrimination claim in Nevada. Claimants may file claims online, over the phone, by mail, at a NERC office, or in person at an EEOC office:
EEOC — Las Vegas Local Office
333 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, NV 89101
Phone: (800) 669-4000
Fax: (702) 388-5094
NERC or EEOC disqualifies claims that were filed more than 300 days after the claimant was discriminated against. In some cases, the statute of limitations may be even shorter. Therefore, victims should consult an attorney right away to begin the process.
The NERC and EEOC usually attempt to settle the claim through mediation. Mediation is literally when both sides come to the table, and a trained mediator helps to hash out a solution.
Claimants do not have to agree to mediation. But mediation may be a quicker and more cost-effective option than litigating a claim or a lawsuit. A labor law attorney can help determine whether mediation is worth trying.
4.3. Settling the claim
If the case is not resolved through mediation, the administrative agency (NERC or EEOC) may investigate the charge. This often includes:
- asking the employer to answer to the charges raised in the claim
- interviewing witnesses
- gathering relevant documents and other evidence
If the agency decides that no discrimination occurred — or if a settlement cannot be reached in the case — the agency will give the claimant a “right to sue” letter.
If the case is resolved to everyone’s satisfaction, the claimant will probably have to sign a release form promising not to bring a lawsuit.
This process takes an average of up to six months.
4.4. Filing a lawsuit
Once all the aforementioned legal remedies are exhausted, the claimant may file a civil lawsuit for employment discrimination.5 An employment attorney can help the claimant decide whether to file in state or federal court and which claims to bring.
Many lawsuits end up settling out of court without going to trial. Note that lawsuits must be filed within 90 days from receiving the “right to sue” letter from the NERC or EEOC.
Claimants may be able to recover the following money damages depending on the facts of the case and whether it is in state or federal court:
- Compensatory damages, to cover the victim’s expenses related to the discrimination. This also comprises back pay, including all the wages, overtime payments, vacation time, sick leave, pension benefits, and health insurance the claimant would have received had the discrimination not occurred;6
- Punitive damages, if the employer acted maliciously or intentionally discriminated against the claimant;
- Attorney’s fees; and/or
- Court costs
In cases where the claimant was wrongly terminated, the employer may even be ordered to hire or reinstate the employee. Learn more about how employment discrimination is an exception to at-will employment laws in Nevada.
Call a Nevada labor attorney…
Are you a victim of employment discrimination? Contact our Las Vegas employment law attorneys. We will fight to get you all the money damages available and restore your career.
Located in California? Learn about filing an employment discrimination claim in California.
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
- NRS 613.330; Bostock v Clayton County, U.S. Supreme Court (2020); Supreme Court says federal law protects LGBTQ workers from discrimination, CNN (June 15, 2020).
- NRS 613.310; Copeland v. Desert Inn Hotel, 99 Nev. 823, 673 P.2d 490 (1983)(“Like their federal counterparts, the Nevada antidiscrimination statutes have laudable goals and will be broadly construed. We therefore adopt the doctrine of equitable tolling in this context; procedural technicalities that would bar claims of discrimination will be looked upon with disfavor.”); Chavez v. Sievers, 118 Nev. 288, 43 P.3d 1022, 118 Nev. Adv. Rep. 28 (2002).(“Supreme Court of Nevada declined to recognize a public policy exception to the employment at-will doctrine based on race discrimination with respect to small employers because the Legislature had created remedies for employment discrimination under the provisions of NRS § 613.330 and had explicitly exempted small employers.”).
- Coverage of Labor Unions and Joint Apprenticeship Committees, EEOC.
- Apeceche v. White Pine County, 96 Nev. 723, 615 P.2d 975 (1980)(“Employee carries the initial burden of establishing a prima facie case of discrimination by proving (1) she is a member of a protected class, (2) she is qualified for the job, (3) she is satisfying the job requirements, (4) she was discharged, and (5) the employer assigned others to do the same work.”).
- Attorney General Opinion 83-4 (6-6-1983)(“In calculating back pay awards for employment discrimination cases, it is proper for the Equal Rights Commission to include “tips” in calculations of back pay awards where “tips” are normally part of wages earned and where an adequate evidentiary basis for making calculations of potential “tip” income exists.”).