On October 1, 2017, a new law went into effect to strengthen protections for pregnant workers in Nevada. The Nevada Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act (NPWFA), NRS 613.335, is designed to prevent discrimination in the workplace on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. Employers with 15 or more employees need to understand their rights and obligations under the new law.
The NPWFA prohibits discriminatory employment actions based on pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions
The NPWFA prohibits employment discrimination against pregnant employees in a number of ways, and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees who require them. Specifically, the NPWFA makes it unlawful for covered employers to:
- Deny reasonable accommodations requested by an employee or applicant for conditions related to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition, unless the accommodation presents an undue hardship upon the employer or its business.
- Base adverse employment actions on an employee’s request for or use of a reasonable accommodation.
- Deny employment to an otherwise qualified female employee or applicant on the basis of needing a reasonable accommodation.
- Require a female employee or applicant to accept an accommodation that she didn’t request or has turned down, or to take a leave of absence even though an accommodation is available.
The NPWFA’s protection for new and expecting mothers extends well beyond pregnancy itself. Its definition of covered conditions includes a “physical or mental condition intrinsic to pregnancy or childbirth.” This explicitly includes conditions related to lactation, including the need to express milk, and post-partum depression, among other things. The NPWFA also specifically covers recovery following the loss of a pregnancy.
The NPWFA provides some guidance regarding what reasonable accommodations might look like. For example, modified equipment, revised break schedules, or providing a clean space (other than a bathroom) for expressing milk. If the employee’s job involves manual labor, the employer might temporarily give her light duty or a transfer to a less strenuous position.
Protected employer actions
Although the NPWFA offers pregnant employees broad protections against discriminatory behavior by employers, it gives employers certain leeway. For one, employers may still make employment decisions based on a bona fide occupational qualification. Employers are also allowed to require an employee to provide a written medical certification from the employee’s doctor describing the employee’s need for an accommodation in connection with pregnancy, childbirth, or related conditions. The employer can also require the report to include the physician’s recommendations for specific accommodations that would meet the employee’s medical needs.
Employers who are subject to the NPWFA must post in a conspicuous place a notice about employees’ rights under the law, and must provide a copy of the notice to all new employees and, within 10 days, any current employee who notifies management that she is pregnant. The Nevada Equal Rights Commission provides a form of notice on its website. Note that the NPWFA’s notice requirements went into effect on June 2, 2017.
At GGRM we are committed to helping our business clients stay in compliance with laws like the NPWFA, and to ensuring that the rights of our individual clients are protected. If you have questions about how the NPWFA might affect your individual rights or your obligations as an employer, our attorneys are available to help. Give us a call at 702-388-4476, or visit our website, to schedule a free consultation.