The Mother of All Laws – The Impacts of the Nevada Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act

On June 2, 2017, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed the Nevada Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act (the “Act”) into law. Some of its provisions became effective immediately. The rest take effect on October 1, 2017. Regardless of the date, your business has just been impacted by additional rules mandating your treatment of employees.

The immediate aftermath relates to notices that you need to provide to your employees. If you employ at least 15 people, even if they are not all within the state of Nevada, you now are responsible for three new notice requirements. The first must be made upon new employment, regardless of physical condition or gender. The second is a notice posted in conspicuous place and the third is mandatory within 10 days of learning that one of your employees is pregnant. Gordon Law can help you craft the appropriate written notice requirements. Additionally, Gordon Law recommends that you amend any employee handbooks you may have to ensure that you have satisfied the notice requirements. For further discussions concerning Gordon Law’s recommendations about employee handbooks, please see http://gordonlawlv.com/manual-employee-manual/#.WWvWTojyvD4.

Beyond the changes to the notice requirements, and far more pervasive, is the impact of the Act that protects all female employees and applicants with conditions relating to pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition from the first day of employment. The definitions of conditions relating to pregnancy are very broad and include physical or mental conditions intrinsic to pregnancy or childbirth; lactation (please also note that the 2017 Legislature also enacted additional protections for nursing mothers); and post-partum depression. Some of these conditions can last for years after a woman is no longer pregnant and may be pre-existing to the woman joining your organization. The fact that the Act protects both applicants as well as employees for such wide-reaching conditions requires that you proceed with caution with all who are seeking employment or are employed by you.

Under the Act, an employer must provide a reasonable accommodation to enable the employee to continue to work. The potential accommodations that must be made include modifying equipment or work spaces; revising break schedules; and providing an adjusted work schedule.  Unlike other laws concerning accommodation to employees (for example, under the ADA), under the Act, the determination of whether the accommodation is reasonable is whether the employee accepts the accommodation. Thus, an employee can essentially direct any accommodation she wants so long as she is protected under the Act.

As an employer you have to act immediately to provide notice. Additionally, you should act immediately to review other components of your handbook and/or policies to ensure that you are not in violation of the Act. Furthermore, should an employee seek an accommodation under the Act, you should contact a Nevada lawyer to ensure that you are doing all that is necessary to be in compliance with the Act and not opening yourself up to potential liability.

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