The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”) prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Discrimination based on these characteristics is a form of sex discrimination. Nevada law also provides protection at work for pregnant women.
What Is Required of an Employer?
An employer with 15 or more employees cannot refuse to hire a woman because she is pregnant provided that she is able to perform the major functions of the position. These protections also apply to pay, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, fringe benefits, firing, and other terms or conditions of employment.
An employer must treat a woman who is pregnant similarly to other employees in regard to medical clearance procedures. If needed and if possible, it must also treat her similarly to a temporarily disabled employee by modifying her duties to accommodate her condition.
A woman who is pregnant, not the employer, has the right to decide whether working poses a risk to her or to her pregnancy. So long as she is able to perform her job, a pregnant woman should be allowed to work. If she is unable to perform her job, then an employer may place her on unpaid leave before the delivery, and for 12 weeks following the delivery under the FMLA.
How Does Nevada Law Protect Pregnant Women?
The Nevada Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act (“NPWFA”) also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to women for conditions related to pregnancy, childbirth, or other related conditions. Employers must engage in a timely, good faith, interactive process to determine what accommodation works best. An accommodation might include something like modifying equipment or seating, revising break schedules, allowing light duty work, temporarily transferring the employee to a less strenuous or hazardous position, or restructuring a position or work schedule. In most cases, an employer does not have to create a new position or negatively affect another employee in order to accommodate the pregnant employee. (Learn more here and here).
An employer must provide an accommodation unless it can prove that doing so would impose an undue hardship on the employer (e.g. really expensive). Further, a pregnant employee does not have to accept an accommodation she did not request or chooses not to accept, and an employer cannot require her to take leave from work if a reasonable accommodation would allow her to continue working. Finally, the NPWFA prohibits employers from taking any adverse action (termination, demotion, etc.) against an employee who requests or uses a reasonable accommodation.
Nevada law provides greater protections than the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, so female employees and employers should be aware of how the NPWFA protects female employees.
How Can a Plaintiff Take Action?
A female employee who believes an employer has discriminated against her must first file a complaint with NERC or the EEOC. After that, she can file a lawsuit against the employer, if she wishes. However, if we think you have a case, we can also write a letter to your employer to help them understand they are violating the law and then, if necessary, we can file a a lawsuit to enforce your rights.
What Remedies Are Available?
In a successful claim, a plaintiff may be able to receive compensatory damages for costs caused by the discrimination. In malicious cases, punitive damages may be available. If the plaintiff desires, she may also be able have her work status restored.
Applicable laws: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; NRS 613.335; NRS 613:4353-4383.
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