On June 2, 2017, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed Senate Bill No. 253 (the Nevada Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act) into law. The new law amends the Nevada Fair Employment Practices Act and greatly expands the legal protections afforded to pregnant employees in Nevada. The Nevada Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act applies to employers with 15 or more employees goes into effect on October 1, 2017
Current Protections for Pregnant Employees
Under Nevada’s current law, pregnancy is considered a protected class and it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a pregnant employee because of her pregnancy. In addition, employers are required to provide pregnant employees the same benefits provided to other employees due to sickness or disability related to a medical condition.
Under the Nevada Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act, it an unlawful employment practice to:
- Refuse to provide a reasonable accommodation to a female employee or applicant for a condition relating to pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition.
- Take adverse action against, or deny an employment opportunity to, an otherwise qualified female employee or applicant due to a request for, or use of, a reasonable accommodation.
A “condition relating to pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition” includes a “physical or mental condition intrinsic to pregnancy or childbirth” — specifically including lactation and the need to express milk for a nursing child
A “related medical condition” includes “any medically recognized physical or mental condition related to the pregnancy, childbirth or recovery” — specifically including mastitis or other lactation-related medical condition, gestational diabetes, pregnancy-induced hypertension, preeclampsia, post-partum depression, and the loss or end of pregnancy and the subsequent recovery.
In addition, when a female employee or applicant “requests an accommodation” for a protected condition employers are required to engage in a “good faith and interactive process” with the employee to determine an effective and reasonable accommodation. During this interactive process, an employer is permitted to require the employee to provide a statement from the employee’s physician concerning the specific accommodation recommended.
Examples of some possible reasonable accommodations include:
- modifying equipment,
- revising break schedules,
- providing space other than restrooms for the expressing of milk
- assistance with manual labor (if manual labor is incidental to the employee’s primary work duties),
- light duty,
- temporary transfer to less strenuous or hazardous positions
- restructuring the position
- providing a modified work schedule and/or
- leave of absence (however an employer cannot require an employee to take leave from employment if there is a reasonable accommodation that would allow the employee to continue to work).
Employers are not, however, required to create a new position or discharge or transfer any employee with more seniority unless the employer has or would take similar action to accommodate other classes of employees.
Exemptions from Nevada Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act
Employers who are contractors licensed under Chapter 624 of the Nevada Revised Statutes are exempt from some of the Nevada Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act’s requirements. These employers are:
- Not required to provide a place other than a restroom to express milk if the employee is performing work at a construction job site that is located more than three miles from its regular place of business and
- Exempt from the prohibitions against requiring an employee whose work duties include manual labor to accept an accommodation or take leave from employment
Nevada employers are required to provide employees with notice of their rights under the new law in two separate times:
- to new employees at the start of employment;
- within 10 days after the employee notifies her immediate supervisor that she is pregnant
In addition, employers are required to post notice of these rights in a conspicuous place at its place of business.
The notice must tell employees that they have the right to be free from discriminatory or unlawful employment practices pursuant to the Nevada Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act and must also include a statement that a female employee has the right to a reasonable accommodation for a condition relating to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical condition.
The notice provisions of the Act went into effect on June 2, 2017.
Recommendations for Nevada Employers
It is recommended that Nevada employers review the new law and verify that their practices relating to pregnant employees are compliant with the Act. In addition, all Nevada employers should provide all employees with notice of their rights under Nevada Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act. The Nevada Equal Rights Commission has not yet prepared a sample notice/poster for employers to use and recommends that employers develop their own. Please contact an HR Professional to get a copy of a sample notice and poster.