Federal law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for asserting their right to be free from employment discrimination and harassment when the discrimination is based on a protected class, such as race, disability, religion, sex, age, etc. Nevada law has similar prohibitions.
What Types of Employee Activities Are Protected?
An employee’s “protected activity” can take many forms, including the following examples:
- Filing or being a witness in an EEOC or NERC charge, complaint, investigation, or lawsuit;
- Communicating with a supervisor or manager about employment discrimination;
- Answering questions during an employer investigation of alleged harassment;
- Refusing to follow orders that would result in discrimination;
- Resisting sexual advances or intervening to protect others;
- Requesting accommodation of a disability or for a religious practice;
- Asking managers or co-workers about salary information to uncover potentially discriminatory wages.
Participating in a complaint process is protected from retaliation in all circumstances. Other acts to oppose discrimination are protected so long as the employee acted on a reasonable belief that something in the workplace might have been a violation of the law, even if the employee didn’t use legal terminology to describe it.
The employer’s adverse action against the employee must be a response to the employee’s protected activity.
Are Employees Protected from All Discipline for Asserting Their Rights?
No, engaging in protected activity does not shield an employee from discipline or discharge if the employer’s decision is motivated by non-retaliatory and non-discriminatory reasons that would otherwise result in the employer’s adverse action. However, an employer may not do anything that would discourage an employee from resisting or complaining about future discrimination.
What Are Some Examples of Retaliation?
The following actions could be retaliation if taken in response to an employee’s protected activity:
- Reprimanding an employee or giving a performance evaluation that is lower than it should be;
- Transferring an employee to a less desirable position;
- Engaging in verbal or physical abuse;
- Threatening to make, or actually making, reports to authorities (such as reporting immigration status or contacting the police);
- Increasing scrutiny;
- Spreading false rumors or treating a family member negatively; or
- Making the person’s work more difficult.
Does Nevada Law Prohibit Retaliation in Employment?
Yes. The content above specifically describes retaliation as related to federal law, but Nevada law contains similar prohibitions against retaliation in employment. For example, it specifically prohibits retaliation against any employee who “has made a charge, testified, assisted or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding or hearing” under Nevada’s anti-discrimination laws.
WHAT CAN I DO IF MY EMPLOYER RETALIATES AGAINST ME?
To learn about what action you can take, go here.
Applicable law: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; NRS 613.340.