Understanding EEOC and NERC cases
Discrimination and wrongful termination cases with the Nevada Equal Rights Commission or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Illegal Workplace Discrimination in Nevada
In Nevada, certain types of employment discrimination are illegal under state law, federal law, or both. Illegal discrimination occurs when an employer subjects an employee to an “adverse employment action,” such as termination, demotion, reduction in wages, or failure to promote because of an illegal reason such as age (over 40), disability, race/color, national origin, religion, sex, gender, or sexual orientation. In order to be illegal, the adverse employment action must be based on an illegal reason. For example, terminating an employee because of his or her race, religion, or sex is illegal, but terminating an employee for insubordination, tardiness, or performance issues is not illegal.
Legal Actions for Employment Discrimination
If an employee believes he or she has been the victim of illegal discrimination in the workplace, the employee may pursue legal action and remedies. This may ultimately include filing a lawsuit in federal court. However, before an employee can file a federal lawsuit against his or her employer, the employee must first exhaust any administrative remedies.
Administrative remedies for employment discrimination are provided by either the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) or the Nevada Equal Rights Commission (“NERC”). EEOC is the federal agency that oversees claims of employment discrimination, and NERC is the Nevada state agency that oversees claims of employment discrimination in Nevada. An employee can file a Charge of Discrimination with either agency, however, an employee should not file a Charge of Discrimination with both agencies.
Proceedings with NERC or EEOC
Once an employee has filed a Charge of Discrimination with EEOC or NERC, the administrative agency will inform the employer that a Charge of Discrimination has been filed against it, and request that the employer provide a Position Statement responding to the Charge of Discrimination. EEOC or NERC will then offer to hold a mediation between the employee and the employer before the case proceeds to investigation. These mediations rarely result in a satisfactory resolution of the case.
If the mediation between the employee and employer fails to reach a compromise between the parties, the case will proceed to investigation. EEOC or NERC will review information provided by both parties, conduct interviews of witnesses, and obtain any further information it needs to determine whether illegal discrimination occurred. If the agency determines that illegal discrimination has occurred, it will order an appropriate remedy (this can include monetary relief, job reinstatement, as well as requiring the employer to change certain employment practices).
If EEOC or NERC cannot find evidence of illegal discrimination, it will close its investigation. However, even in this situation, the employee may still pursue further legal action by filing a lawsuit in federal court. If EEOC or NERC does not find evidence of illegal discrimination, it will issue to the employee a Notice of Right to Sue. This allows the employee to take the case to federal court, where the employee will attempt to persuade a judge or jury that the employee was subjected to illegal discrimination and is entitled to lost wages, reinstatement, or other remedies.
EEOC and NERC investigations generally take at least one year. An employee is not required to wait this entire time before bringing a lawsuit in federal court. If the employee wishes to hasten the dispute resolution process, at any time during the EEOC or NERC investigation, the employee may contact the agency and ask for a Notice of Right to Sue. If an employee does this, the agency investigation will be closed, and the employee will be able to proceed immediately to federal court.