Nevada is an at-will employment state, which means that by default, an employer or employee can end an employment relationship with or without cause, and without further obligation to the other side. At-will employment protects the freedom of workers to choose when and where they work, and the freedom of employers to fill their labor needs as they see fit. Like most baseline rules, the at-will employment standard is subject to a range of exceptions and limitations. Understanding how these nuances work is important both for Nevada employers and for employees who think they may have been wrongly terminated.
Employers are free to fire employees, unless…
In general, at-will employment means that an employer can terminate an employee whenever it needs to. But not every reason for firing an employee is lawful. Nevada and federal law protect employees from adverse employment decisions in a range of circumstances. For example, employers are not allowed to retaliate against employees who report an employer’s illegal behavior. The law also protects employees in specific situations, like those who are victims of domestic violence, have a disability, or are pregnant. An employer also cannot make hiring decisions based on a wide range of traits protected by federal civil rights laws, including an employee’s race, national origin, sex, religion, age (in the case of workers over 40), bankruptcy history, or citizenship status.
Employment contracts can change the rules
Another major exception to the at-will employment rule is for contracts that specify when and how an employee can leave the position or be let go. This rule acknowledges that the two sides of an employment relationship can freely choose to forego the flexibility of the at-will standard in favor of meeting other needs.
An employment contract can be express, such as a written document, or it can be implied. An implied contract can arise if an employer somehow leads an employee to believe that his or her job is only subject to being terminated for limited reasons. Company policies or the promises of managers can give rise to an implied employment contract. If the employer fires the employee without having met the tacit conditions of an implied contract, the employee might have an argument for wrongful termination.
Workers are often denied important benefits and rights as a consequence of being mischaracterized as independent contractors instead of employees. For example, employers are not required to provide independent contractors with benefits that must be given to employees, like workers’ compensation insurance. If an independent contract gets injured on the job, she is expected to have her own insurance policy. Nevada law provides guidelines for when a person can be characterized as an independent contractor (NRS 608 et seq.).
An attorney can help resolve questions about at-will employment
Understanding at-will employment can be challenging, thanks to the wide range of rules and the frequent lack of clear, easy to follow guidelines. Workers who think they might have been mistreated by an employer can feel helpless, especially when the employer seems to hold all the cards. This can be especially true when a worker is injured on the job and is denied health benefits, either because the employer has wrongly terminated them after the injury or because the employer argues that the worker was an independent contractor and not eligible for workers’ compensation.
For decades, GGRM has helped workers who have been injured on the job to get the compensation and care they deserve. If you have been denied coverage for a work-related injury, it’s important to talk to an experienced attorney who can help you protect your rights. Whether you need legal representation immediately or would just like to speak with an attorney, give us a call at 702-388-4476 or visit our website.