If you are an employee in Nevada, both federal and state employment laws protect your workplace rights. These laws prohibit discrimination, require payment of overtime, govern your right to take time off work, and mandate safe workplaces, among other things. And, they apply to every part of the employment relationship, from interviews and hiring to wages, benefits, discipline, promotions, and termination.
This article provides an introduction to your workplace rights in Nevada.
Wage and Hour Laws in Nevada
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets the pay standards employers must follow, including the minimum wage, overtime pay, and other wage and hour rules. Employers must pay the highest minimum wage applicable to employees, whether set by federal, state, or local law. In Nevada, the minimum wage is $7.25—the same as the federal minimum hourly wage—for employees whose employers provide health benefits. Employees who don’t receive health benefits are entitled to at least $8.25 an hour.
Under the FLSA, employers must pay employees overtime—time and a half—for all hours worked after the first 40 in a week. Nevada law also has a daily overtime standard: In addition to paying overtime if an employee works more than 40 hours in a week, Nevada employers must pay employees overtime if they work more than eight hours in a day.
Some employees are not entitled to earn overtime, however. If you fall within an exception to the overtime laws (for example, because you are a salaried manager as defined by the law), you are an exempt employee, which means you are not eligible for overtime. You can find out more about the FLSA from the Wage and Hour Division of the federal Department of Labor. Learn more about Nevada’s wage and overtime rules from the website of the Nevada Labor Commissioner.
Nevada Laws on Discrimination and Harassment
Under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers may not make job decisions based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), or national origin. Additional federal laws prohibit discrimination based on age (if the employee is at least 40 years old), genetic information, or disability. Employers with at least 15 employees are subject to these laws (for age discrimination, employers with at least 20 employees must comply with the law).
Employers may not discriminate in any part of the employment relationship, from job listings, interviews, and hiring decisions, to promotions, benefits, compensation, discipline, layoffs, and termination. To learn more about the federal laws that ban employment discrimination, see the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Laws Enforced by the EEOC.
Nevada law prohibits discrimination based on all of these traits, as well as sexual orientation (actual or perceived), gender identity or expression, use of a service animal, credit information or report, and opposition to unlawful employment practices. Employees are also protected from discrimination based on their lawful use of any product while they are not at work. Nevada employers must comply with these laws if they have 15 or more employees. The Nevada Equal Rights Commission enforces these laws.
Harassment is a form of prohibited discrimination. Legally speaking, harassment is defined as unwelcome actions or statements, based on a protected trait (like sex or race), that create a hostile or offensive working environment or that an employee must endure in order to get or keep a job. For example, if an employee has to go out on dates with her supervisor as a condition of promotion or has to put up with a constant barrage of sexual banter, jokes, and images at work, that would be harassment. Sexual harassment is the most familiar type of harassment, but harassment might also be based on disability, ethnicity, or another protected trait.
If you complain of workplace discrimination or harassment, you are protected from retaliation. It is illegal for your employer to take any negative job action against you, whether you complain within the company, to the EEOC or the Nevada Equal Rights Commission, or in a lawsuit.
Taking Leave From Your Job in Nevada
Many employers offer their employees paid leave, such as vacation time, sick days, holidays, or paid time off (PTO) benefits. In Nevada, these benefits are discretionary. Some states require employers to give employees paid sick days, but neither Nevada nor federal law requires employers to offer paid leave.
However, employers may be required to offer unpaid leave for reasons such as:
- Family and medical leave. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers with at least 50 employees to give eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off per year for illness, caregiving, and bonding with a new child. While you are on FMLA leave, your employer must continue your group health benefits. You have the right to be reinstated when your leave is through.
- School activities leave. Nevada employers with at least 50 employees must let employees take time off to volunteer at their child’s school, attend school events and activities, and attend parent-teacher conferences. Employees are entitled to four hours off for these activities per year. Employers also may not fire or discipline an employee for receiving an emergency call at work about their child or attending a conference requested by a school administrator.
- Military leave. The federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) requires employers to allow employees to take leave from work for federal or state military service or duty. Employees must be reinstated when their military leave is through. Nevada employers may not discriminate against employees who are members of the state national guard. Employers also may not fire employees because they attend required ceremonies, training, or maneuvers; attend field training; assemble for field training; or are called to active duty.
- Military family leave. Under the FMLA, eligible employees may take up to 26 weeks off in a single year to care for a family member who was seriously injured on military duty.
- Jury duty. Nevada employers must also allow employees to take time off work for jury service. This leave is unpaid.
- Time off to vote. Nevada employers must give employees paid time off to vote, unless they have sufficient time to cast their ballots outside of work hours. Employers must provide one hour off for employees who work within two miles of the polling place; two hours off for employees who work between two and ten miles of the polling place, and three hours off for employees who work more than ten miles from the polling place.
- Domestic violence leave. Employees who have been employed for at least 90 days are entitled to unpaid time off for domestic violence. They may take up to 160 hours in a year to attend to certain medical, legal, and safety matters for themselves or for a family member who is a victim of domestic violence. The law applies to all employers and is effective on January 1, 2018.
Nevada Laws on Workplace Safety and Injuries
In every state, including Nevada, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to provide a safe workplace, free of known hazards. Employers must provide safe, healthy working conditions, including the necessary training and safety equipment for their industry.
Employees have the right to request an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspection if they believe their employer has committed safety violations. It is illegal for employers to retaliate against employees who complain of unsafe or hazardous working conditions.
Most Nevada employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, which covers employees who suffer an on-the-job injury or illness. Workers’ comp pays you a percentage of your usual earnings while you are unable to work, pays for necessary medical treatment, and provides vocational rehabilitation and other benefits.
Leaving Your Job in Nevada
Nevada employees generally work at will. This means they may quit at any time, for any reason, and they can be fired at any time, for any reason that is not illegal. However, even at-will employees may not be fired for reasons that are discriminatory or retaliatory. You may not be fired, for example, for raising concerns about discrimination, filing a wage claim against your employer, or making an OSHA complaint.
Unemployment and Insurance Benefits
If you are out of work through no fault of your own (that is, you didn’t quit your job voluntarily and you were not fired for serious misconduct), you may be eligible for unemployment benefits. To qualify, you must meet the state’s earning requirements. If you are eligible, you will receive a percentage of your previous earnings (up to a maximum of $417 per week) for 26 weeks while you are looking for a new job. Learn more about eligibility requirements, benefit amounts, job search requirements, and more (or file a claim for benefits online) at the website of the Nevada Department of Employment, Training, and Rehabilitation.
If you have group health benefits through your employer, you may have the right to continue your coverage after you leave your job (whether you quit or are laid off or fired). These rights are provided by a federal law called the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or COBRA. You will have to pay the full premium (including any portion your employer used to pay as an employment benefit), plus up to 2% of that amount for administrative costs. You can continue your benefits for up to 18 months; your spouse and other dependents may continue their benefits for 18 to 36 months, depending on the circumstances.
Talk to a Lawyer
As you can see, a variety of state and federal laws protect employees in Nevada. If you believe your employer has violated your legal rights, you should speak to an experienced Nevada employment lawyer. A lawyer can help you figure out whether you have legal claims against your employer and, if so, how best to pursue them.