April Corbin Girnus, Nevada Current
Nevada has some of the nation’s most robust workplace protections for people experiencing domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, a new analysis found.
A report released earlier this month by Legal Momentum and Futures Without Violence compared employment laws across the United States and found that Nevada was one of just seven states whose employment laws provide survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking with anti-discriminations protections in the workplace, reasonable workplace accommodations, some form of leave, and unemployment insurance.
Authors of the report noted that people escaping abuse often “face unique obstacles and may need to plan for their safety at work, seek adjustments to their work schedule or office space, take time off to appear in court or secure childcare.”
“Many risk losing their jobs at a time when their financial independence is paramount,” the report continued.
A 2018 survey on intimate partner violence by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that 83% reported that their abusive partners disrupted their ability to work. Among those: 70% said they were not able to have a job when they wanted or needed one, 53% said they lost a job because of the abuse, and 49% percent said they missed one or more days of work because of the abuse.
The only employment protection for survivors that is available in most states is unemployment insurance, according to the report.
In Nevada, unemployment benefits cannot be denied to someone who left their employment in order to protect themselves or a family or household member from domestic violence.
Nevada employers must also make reasonable accommodations for an employee who is a victim of domestic violence or whose family or household member is a victim of domestic violence. That could include adjusting the employee’s work schedule, transferring or reassigning them within a company, or providing them with a new work telephone number, among other accommodations.
Nevada also offers protections for people who need to take time off work in the wake of domestic violence.
Victims of domestic violence are entitled to up to 160 hours of leave in a 12-month period following an act of domestic violence. The state specifies that such time, which can be unpaid, can be used for counseling or other services, court proceedings, or “any action to increase the safety of the employee or family or household member of the employee from a future act of domestic violence.”
To be qualified for such leave, the employee has to have been employed for at least 90 days, making the protection more comprehensive than the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which comes with stricter employment requirements. For people who do qualify for FMLA, the domestic violence time off can run concurrently with FMLA.
Nevada’s domestic violence time-off law was passed unanimously by the state legislature in 2017.
About half of all states provide some form of leave that a person experiencing or escaping domestic violence can use, according to the Legal Momentum report, but specific policies vary. Some states limit the leave to just attending legal proceedings.
Nevada has a general paid time-off law, which lawmakers passed in 2019. It requires employers to provide up to 40 hours of paid leave, accrued at a rate of 0.01923 hours per 1 hour worked.
It is illegal for an employer to “ discharge, discipline or discriminate” against a worker who uses their leave for domestic violence-related reasons. Nevada is one of “only a handful of states” to offer such anti-discrimination protections for survivors of abuse, according to the report.
Protections across states can vary depending on the state’s legal definition of domestic violence, the report noted.
In 2019, Nevada broadened its definition of domestic violence to include coercion, burglary, home invasion and pandering.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 41% of women and 26% of men experienced “sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner and reported an intimate partner violence-related impact during their lifetime.”
For a comprehensive breakdown of Nevada’s employment protections for survivors of domestic violence, click here.
This story was written by April Corbin Girnus, a contributor to the Nevada Current, where this story first appeared.
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