Employment Law Overview
Las Vegas Employment Lawyer
Nevada Employment Laws
If you’ve been terminated from your employment, you might be confused regarding your legal rights. At The Vegas Lawyers, we have the experience and skills to provide our clients with the right guidance during this difficult period. We understand and appreciate the anxiety and stress you might be feeling. Employment laws are complex and they encompass a number of different federal and state laws. There is much confusion among employees regarding what types of rights they have and often, the first step as a lawyer, is dispelling a number of misplaced beliefs.
At The Vegas Lawyers we routinely represent employees that face employment issues. Whether you work in Las Vegas, Henderson, Green Valley, Summerlin, North Las Vegas, Boulder City, Mesquite, Laughlin or Pahrump, we can help. Our attorneys have decades of experience guiding employees and, where necessary, litigating their cases in court. Our attorneys and paralegals are very familiar with both state and federal court procedures and we have a track record of success to ensure you’re well represented in every respect.
WHAT TYPE OF CLAIM DO YOU HAVE?
The first step in understanding what recourse you might have if you’ve been terminated is understanding what, if any, type of claim you have. There are really only two types of employment claims: those based upon a contract and those based upon federal/state laws. A contract claim would be based upon a written agreement between you and your employer providing you certain rights.
For example, if an employer has you sign a contract when you commence employment and the employer violates the contract, you could potentially sue for breach of contract. Very few employees have written contracts governing their employment. Written contracts are usually only found in employment situations involving executives and higher-level managerial type employees.
The second types of claims, and these are the most common, are based upon state or federal laws protecting workers rights. For example, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a landmark federal civil rights law, employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees based upon certain grounds such as race, religion, skin color, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation and national origin.
Age discrimination is prohibited by a separate federal law known as the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Wage and hour discrimination is prohibited by the Fair Labor Standards Act, another federal law. On the state level, Nevada protects workers’ rights under Nevada Revised Statute 613.330 which basically adopts the federal Title VII protections afforded employees.
Not every termination of employment necessarily gives rise to an employment claim. This is a very important point to understand. A good and reputable attorney will give you honest and frank advice after learning about the facts of your case rather than wasting time pursuing a case that will not result in a meaningful resolution. At The Vegas Lawyers, we pride ourselves on educating and informing our clients so that they have a proper understanding of what is and what
isn’t possible. The worst thing is to waste time and money pursuing a claim that has no chance of success.
NEVADA IS AN “AT-WILL” AND “RIGHT TO WORK” STATE
Many employees confuse the terms “at-will” and “right to work” and mistakenly believe that if they’ve been terminated, this is a violation of their right to work. First off, it’s important to understand that “right to work” laws are labor laws that provide an employee with the right to work through a strike, refuse to join a union and pay union dues. Nevada is both a right to work and at-will state. The concept of right to work has nothing to do with the legal doctrine of at-will.
At-will is a completely different legal concept from right to work. What at-will means is that either the employer or employee can terminate the employment relationship for any reason without incurring any liability. The only condition for employers is that they cannot terminate a person’s employment for an “illegal” reason. An illegal reason would be something that violates an Employment Law within the state, federal law or public policy. Here are some examples of how the at-will concept works:
● Andy works for ABC, Inc. One day Andy wakes up and realizes he hates his job. Despite having a major work deadline coming up on a project he’s in charge of, Andy calls his supervisor and tells him he’s not coming to work because he quits. Can ABC sue Andy for quitting? Unless the parties have a written contract requiring Andy to provide a certain amount of notice, the answer is no. Andy is an at-will employee and may quit for any reason.
● Susan works for ABC, Inc. One day Susan comes to work in a purple blouse. Her supervisor, Stan, is a very temperamental person and a real screamer at work. “I can’t believe you’re wearing a purple blouse, I hate the color purple!” Stan screams and tells Susan “you’re fired.” Despite having a great work history and never having missed a day of work, can Susan be fired for simply wearing a purple blouse? Unless Susan has a written contract protecting her employment or there is a public policy in Nevada protecting people that wear the color purple, the answer is yes. Susan is an at-will employee. There is nothing illegal about being a jerk or a screamer as a supervisor so Stan can fire Susan for completely whimsical reasons and reasons that would offend most people’s sense of fairness and decency. What’s fair and decent is not the same as what’s illegal.
● Nancy works for ABC, Inc. One day Nancy’s supervisor asks her out on a date. She turns him down. He continues to badger her and begins sending her lewd and inappropriate emails. She reports her supervisor to human resources. Following an investigation, the company terminates Nancy for coming to work late on two occasions. Can Nancy sue? The answer would be yes because she has potentially viable claims of both sexual harassment and retaliation. Nancy would argue that her termination was for an illegal reason because it violates federal and state civil rights laws enacted to prohibit sexual harassment and retaliation for reporting such conduct.
These examples illustrate how fact specific employment claims can be. Having a good and competent lawyer by your side who has a proper understanding of the laws is vital. Call The Vegas Lawyers today at (702) 707-7000 to schedule an appointment to discuss your claims with an experienced employment attorney.
PROVING A WRONGFUL TERMINATION CLAIM
If you believe you’ve been subjected to a wrongful termination it’s important to save as many documents as possible. For example, if there is a contract in place, make sure you have a copy of it. Emails, text messages and recordings are also very important items of evidence that can be useful later in proving a claim for wrongful termination.
Write down the names of witnesses that can support events and your version of what happened. Keep notes documenting events so that you won’t forget details. Employment cases can drag on for many years so having solid records and documents can truly help you “tell the story” of what happened.
TYPES OF WRONGFUL TERMINATION CLAIMS
● Wrongful termination based upon prohibited discrimination in violation of federal or state laws. Discrimination based upon an employee’s race, religion, color, national origin, sexual orientation, pregnancy, age and gender are all prohibited.
● Wrongful termination in violation of a written contract can be grounds for a breach of contract action.
● Wrongful termination in violation of the state of Nevada’s public policy can be the basis for a claim. For example, an employee that is fired for missing work because she served on a jury would be a good example of a wrongful termination that offends Nevada’s public policy in favor of citizens obliging their civic responsibilities.
● Wrongful termination for being a whistleblower would be grounds for a claim. There are federal laws that protect persons that are whistleblowers from retaliation.
● Wrongful termination based upon “constructive discharge.” A constructive discharge occurs when an employer makes working conditions so intolerable that no normal or reasonable employee would continue to working in such a job. As a result the employee quits. The act of quitting is not considered a voluntary act because the working conditions are intolerable and therefore the employee has no choice but to quit.
EXHAUSTION OF ADMINISTRATIVE REMEDIES
Exhaustion of administrative remedies is an important concept in employment law. Basically, it means an employee has to submit a claim to a state or federal agency for investigation before the employee can proceed to a court of law.
Why does such a requirement exist? As you might imagine, there are so many employer/employee disputes that exist that both the United States Congress and the Nevada state legislature want claims to be fully investigated in order reduce the number of lawsuits that might swamp the courts. Also, having claims investigated before they end up in court provides for the possibility of potential settlements and, where applicable, a narrowing of issues.
While the first step before filing a lawsuit will be to hopefully negotiate a severance package, often this is not possible because the employer does not believe it did anything wrong or is simply unwilling to resolve a matter. While lawsuits can be time intensive and costly, sometimes they are necessary in order to gain justice.
It’s important to understand, however, that employment cases generally are much longer in duration than most other cases because they require a party, as mentioned above, to exhaust their administrative remedies. What does this mean in practical and specific terms? It means that where an employee is alleging discrimination in violation of state or federal laws, the employee must first file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), a federal agency that investigates discrimination claims, before the employee can proceed to court with a lawsuit. Most states have a state counterpart to the EEOC and an employee can choose to file their claims with the state agency. In Nevada, the counterpart to the EEOC is the Nevada Equal Rights Commission (“NERC”). Like the EEOC, NERC investigates state and federal discrimination claims.
THERE ARE STRICT DEADLINES THAT GOVERN EMPLOYMENT CLAIMS
Under Nevada law, an employee is required to file a claim for wrongful discrimination with NERC within 300 days of the incident giving rise to the claim. Under federal law, an employee is required to file his or her claim with the EEOC within 180 days, but this deadline can be extended if the state law is longer. Notwithstanding the longer state deadline, it’s a good idea to simply file the charge of discrimination within 6-months or 180 days of any incident that could form the basis for a discrimination claim.
If an employee fails to file a claim within these deadlines, the claim will be forfeited and cannot be filed past the deadline. This is yet another reason to consult with a competent lawyer that can review your claims and properly advise you regarding your rights and applicable deadlines.
SECURE YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS If you believe you’ve been subjected to discrimination in violation of your federal and state rights, you need to consult with The Vegas Lawyers. We know the law and we know how to win. Employment Law cases are never easy but with the right lawyer by your side, you can have the confidence in knowing your legal rights are secure.
At The Vegas Lawyers we’re committed to protecting your rights and providing you with compassionate advocacy that puts your dignity first. In this day and age, nobody should be subjected to demeaning treatment in the workplace.
Unfortunately, however, it occurs with far too much frequency. When that becomes the case, you need a law firm in your corner that will make sure you receive the protection and compensation you deserve.
If you’ve been victimized by any form of discrimination, call The Vegas Lawyers at (702) 707-7000 for a confidential consultation to assess your legal rights.