Earlier this year Nevada enacted new employment protections for victims of domestic violence. Senate Bill 361, which goes into full effect on January 1, 2018, protects employees who are affected by domestic violence in a number of significant ways.
New leave requirement
Starting on January 1, Nevada employers will be required to provide leave to employees who have been employed for at least 90 days and are victims of domestic violence, or who have family or household members who are victims of domestic violence. “Domestic violence” includes a wide range of violent or threatening behavior against a family or household member, including battery, assault, compelling actions by force or threat of force, sexual assault, false imprisonment, unlawful entry, or harassing behavior, such as stalking, trespassing, arson, carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, destruction of private property, or injuring or killing an animal. NRS 33.018.
Eligible employees may take up to 160 hours of leave, consecutively or intermittently, within 12 months following the date on which the domestic violence occurred. Employers can decide if the leave will be paid or unpaid. Note that employees who are allegedly the perpetrators of domestic violence are not eligible for leave.
The employee can use his or her leave under the law only for the following specified activities related to an act of domestic violence against the employee or family or household member of the employee:
- For the diagnosis, care, or treatment of a related health condition.
- To obtain counseling or assistance.
- To participate in any related court proceedings.
- To establish a safety plan to protect against future acts of domestic violence.
If the reason for the leave would also qualify under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, 29 U.S.C. 2601 et seq., it must be deducted from the amount of leave to which the employee is entitled under that law.
Employer rights and obligations
SB361 prohibits employers from taking certain actions. Employers are not allowed to deny an eligible employee’s right to use hours of leave that meet the law’s criteria. Nor can an employer require an employee to find a replacement worker as a condition of taking leave, or retaliate against the employee for using hours of leave.
In addition to permitting leave, at the request of an employee who is the victim of domestic violence, or has a family or household member who is the victim of domestic violence, employers must also provide reasonable accommodations, such as transfers, modified schedules, changed work phone numbers, or other steps designed to ensure the employee’s safety. Employers must provide requested accommodations so long as they are reasonable and do not pose an undue burden on the employer or its business.
When an employee takes leave, the employer is required to keep a record of the number of hours of leave taken for a minimum of two years. Such records need to be kept confidential, though the Nevada Labor Commissioner can request an inspection of records with employee names removed. The Commission also has the power to request identifiable records in connection with an investigation.
SB361 permits employers to require employees who wish to use leave or request accommodations under the Act to provide documentation to support the employee’s claims. The law provides these examples of potentially suitable documentation: a police report, a doctor’s report, a copy of an application for an order for protection, or an affidavit from an organization that helps victims.
GGRM can help
As a long-standing member of the Las Vegas community, GGRM is committed to helping clients get through the challenges associated with domestic violence. Whether you are an employer wondering how to best comply with the new rules, or an employee who needs help getting the leave you need, our attorneys can help. For a free consultation with an attorney, give us a call at 702-388-4476, or visit our website.