Each stage of the employment process is regulated by state and federal laws. The following article summarizes the basic employment laws regarding employees in Nevada.
Regulating the Hiring Process
An employment advertisement or help wanted ad cannot advertise that only applicants fitting certain personal characteristics such as race, gender, national origin, religion and disability may qualify or not qualify for the position.
When interviewing prospective employees, employers also may not make inquiries regarding race, national origin, religion, age, sexual orientation, marital status, children or arrests. A disabled person may be asked if he or she requires an accommodation to perform the job.
Regulating Minimum Wage and Overtime
Minimum wage and overtime laws are regulated under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Nevada’s minimum wage is $8.25 with no requirement that the employer provide health insurance. The federal limit of $7.25 may be paid if health insurance is provided by the employer. A training wage of $4.25 per hour can be paid to teenagers for the first 90 days as well as to student learners.
Tipped employees must still earn at least $7.25 per hour or the minimum wage each hour, and no tip credit toward meeting the minimum wage is permitted. Eligible employees get overtime at one and a half times the regular applicable minimum wage if they work more than 40 hours per week.
Those exempt from the state minimum and overtime laws include agricultural workers; immediate family and government employees; bona fide executive, administrative and professional employees; and outside salespersons who earn commissions.
A Danger-Free Workplace
State and federal law require a safe and hazard-free work area and site for all employees. Employees may report safety violations anonymously and are entitled to protection from retaliation by their employers.
Workers' Compensation Laws
The state system of workers' compensation compels all employers having permanent or temporary, full- or part-time employees to maintain workers’ compensation coverage. This is a no-fault system for workers injured on the job or who contract an occupational disease. The system provides weekly wage loss compensation, payment of medical bills and prescriptions, vocational rehabilitation, disability payments, and death benefits to the surviving spouse and children. Statutory guidelines provide the amount of benefits to be paid.
Those not covered include agricultural workers and private domestic servants and a railroad company engaged in interstate or foreign commerce.
Family and Other Leave
The federal Family Medical and Leave Act allows public and state employees and those in companies with at least 50 employees who have worked at least 1,250 hours in the past year to take up to 12 weeks, per 12 months, of unpaid leave to care for a family member or to care for a newborn or newly adopted child or foster child. Employees with serious medical conditions are eligible as well. Employees may also take up to 26 months to care for a military family member.
Nevada has no law more generous than the federal leave act, but does allow employees to take time off for attending a child’s school activities.
If requested in advance, workers are entitled from one to three paid hours off to vote on Election Day depending on the distance from work to the polling location.
No employee may be subjected to any form of harassment under state and federal laws. This includes making sexually explicit comments and jokes, displaying photos and drawings, or sending emails that create a hostile working environment. Employees and supervisors may not engage in conduct that threatens or intimidates another employee or that is unwanted physical contact of any kind.
Harassment usually means sexual conduct, but it refers to any offensive gesture, comment or any other activity that is directed at workers based on their religion, national origin, gender, race or disability. The conduct must not be ongoing or pervasive as well.
An employee who has been disciplined, discharged, demoted or who voluntarily resigns based on a hostile working environment may have an actionable claim against the employer.
Legal and Unlawful Termination
Employers and employees may end their employment relationship at any time if not working under a contract. In these circumstances, employers may fire an employee for any legal reason. Otherwise, an employee can only be fired for reasons stated in the contract.
Employers cannot fire someone for a discriminatory reason or if the person was the target of harassment. Other prohibited reasons include pregnancy, age, work-related injuries or illness.
There are no federal laws regarding vacation pay and Nevada has no law requiring employers to pay for unused vacation time unless it has an established policy or employment contract permitting it.
Unemployment and COBRA
Residents or in-state workers must have been terminated through no fault of their own, not be disabled, be actively seeking work and be able to work.
Federal law requires employers with at least 20 full-time employees to allow discharged workers the right to continue group health benefits for up to 18 months and up to 36 months if there is a “qualifying event.”
The state has a mini-COBRA law covering employers with less than 20 full-time employees to have extended coverage up to 36 months for a spouse and dependent child and up to 18 months for the employee from the day the group coverage ends.
Ask a Nevada Employment Attorney
Employment laws are more complex than presented in this article. Consult a Nevada employment attorney if you have concerns regarding employment laws that affect you.