Under state and federal law, employers are required to adhere to certain principles when terminating an employee. Employers cannot discriminate against an employee based on their age, sex, race, religion or ethnicity. Employers are also prohibited from firing an employee in retaliation for the employee acting within his or her rights, and employers cannot fire someone if it is in breach of a written employment contract. Any violation of these laws can result in the fired employee pursuing legal action against the employer.
At-Will Employment in Nevada
Most states in the country, including Nevada, employ the doctrine of employment at will. At-will employment means that both the employer and the employee have the right to end the employment relationship at any given time, with no advance notice and for any reason at all. However, there are some exceptions to the at-will employment doctrine that limit an employer’s right to fire an employee in certain circumstances.
Wrongful Termination in Nevada
Both Nevada and federal law allow for certain exceptions to the principle of at-will employment. An employee is entitled to take legal action if he or she is fired by an employer and it is in violation of the law. The employer can be held liable for the employee’s back pay, future pay, benefits, damages and attorney fees. The employee may also be granted reasonable accommodations or even be reinstated. Therefore, employers should exercise caution to ensure that they remain in compliance with the law.
Breach of Contract: Employees who have a contract in place governing the terms of their employment may not be considered at-will employees. If an employer fires a worker and it violates the terms of the employment contract or agreement, the employee may have a claim for breach of contract. It is important for employers to note that in Nevada, an employment contract or agreement may be written, oral or implied. An example of an implied contract would be a policy set forth in an employee handbook regarding the terms under which employees may be fired.
Discrimination: Employers are barred from firing employees for discriminatory reasons under both state and federal law. Nevada law bars employers from discriminating against employees based on race, color, sex, national origin, religion, pregnancy, age, disability, genetic information, gender identity or sexual orientation. While the federal law sets forth a minimum number of employees for different types of discrimination to apply, Nevada employers must refrain from discriminatory practices as long as they have a minimum of 15 employees.
Retaliation: It is also illegal in Nevada for an employer to retaliate against an employee for asserting his or her rights or engaging in a protected activity. Protected activities include opposing an illegal practice or violation of a discrimination statute, and testifying or participating in an investigation against the employer for such a violation. Opposition can be anything from questioning an employer’s policy that seems questionable, refusing an order that the employee believes is discriminatory or requesting a reasonable accommodation for a disability. An employee also may not be fired in retaliation for refusing to work in unsafe conditions, refusing to take part in an illegal activity, or for reporting an illegal activity or violation.
Public Policy: The law provides for an exception to the at-will employment doctrine in cases involving public policy. If an employee’s termination was based on his or her refusal to take part in an activity that violates a public policy, the employer may be in violation of the law. In Nevada, public policy exceptions have been recognized in the cases of jury duty, work place safety and workers’ compensation claims. For example, because the law allows employees to file for workers’ compensation benefits, an employer cannot fire someone for doing so because the employee is merely asserting his or her right under a recognized public policy.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.