In the new year, Nevada employers will be required to provide workplace protections for employees who are victims of domestic violence. Nevada Senate Bill 361, which was signed into law by Governor Brian Sandoval over the summer, will become effective on January 1, 2018. This law modifies Chapter 608 of the Nevada Revised Statutes to require employers to provide leave to an employee “who has been employed by an employer for at least 90 days and who is a victim of an act which constitutes domestic violence.” Specifically, an eligible employee is entitled to 160 hours of leave (which may be taken in a block or intermittently) during a 12-month period following the date on which the domestic violence occurs. The leave allowed under this law may be paid or unpaid.
Eligible employees may use the hours of leave for various purposes, including the treatment of a health condition related to an act of domestic violence, counseling or assistance related to an act of domestic violence, participation in any court proceedings related to the act, or the establishment a safety plan to protect against future acts of domestic violence. If leave is used for a reason for which leave may also be taken under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), such hours of leave must be deducted from the amount of leave the employee is entitled to take under the state domestic violence leave law and from the amount of leave the employee is entitled to take under the FMLA. Notably, unlike the FMLA, this statute does not have a minimum number of employees that must work for the organization for the employer to be subject to the law.
Under the law, an employer may not deny leave to an eligible employee or retaliate against an eligible employee for using or requesting leave, but may require documentation that supports the reason for the requested leave. In addition, if any employee leaves employment in order to protect himself or herself (or his or her family members) from domestic violence, the former employee will nevertheless remain eligible to collect unemployment insurance benefits.
In addition to required leave, employers will be required to make reasonable accommodations for employees who are victims of domestic violence or have family members who have been subjected to domestic violence. Such accommodations may include, but are not limited to, transfers or reassignments, schedule modifications, or changes to an employee’s work phone number. However, employers will not be required to implement any accommodation that would constitute an undue hardship.
The labor commissioner has prepared a bulletin that sets forth employees’ rights to the benefits created under this law. The statute requires employers to post this bulletin in “a conspicuous location in each workplace maintained by the employer.”
Finally, this law requires employers to maintain a record of the hours of leave taken for each employee for a two-year period following the entry of such information in the record, and to make such records available for inspection by the Nevada labor commissioner.
To ensure compliance with this law, employers may want to review and update their organization’s policies and handbooks to inform employees of this newly created right. In addition, employers may want to train their management staff to ensure that such employees are aware of the law and that they can properly respond to an employee seeking assistance after an incident of domestic violence. Finally, although the statute does not specifically address such matters, employers may want to consider what, if any, physical security measures can be taken in the workplace to protect all employees from any threats of physical harm at the hands of an attacker.