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Handling Workplace Discrimination Claims: A Step-by-Step Legal Guide

Several federal and Nevada state laws forbid discrimination in employment based on some protected characteristics and traits. If an employee, former employee, or job applicant is the victim of any form of illegal employment discrimination, they can file a claim to seek compensation and other remedies, such as reinstatement of their employment. However, the claims process itself is quite complicated, particularly if you have no prior experience with this type of legal matter.

It is always best to consult with an experienced Las Vegas employment law attorney before initiating a workplace discrimination claim. Many valid claims end up being dismissed and never heard because the employee failed to understand and follow the necessary procedures. This is why it is important to not only work with a qualified attorney but also to engage one as soon as possible after the first discriminatory act occurred.

With that in mind, here are the basic steps in pursuing an employment discrimination case in Nevada.

Step 1. Do You Have a Viable Workplace Discrimination Claim?

In general, all employees are considered “at-will” under Nevada law. This means that absent a written employment agreement, your employer can fire you with or without giving a reason. (You are also free to quit your job at any time.) Employment discrimination laws, however, forbid employers from firing or refusing to hire someone based on a protected characteristic or trait. This includes discriminating against an employee based on any of the following:

  • race, color, or national origin;
  • sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression;
  • religion;
  • disability or perceived disability;
  • pregnancy status; or
  • age, if you are 40 years or older.

Even if you have not been fired or refused work based on protected status, you can still bring a workplace discrimination claim if you have suffered harassment or unfair treatment at your job due to such status. For example, if your boss refuses to promote you because of your sex or your coworkers bully you because of your religious beliefs, that is still considered illegal employment discrimination.

Step 2. File an Administrative Charge

In most cases where you want to take legal action against someone for violating your rights, you could proceed directly to court by filing a lawsuit. Employment discrimination claims work a bit differently. In most cases, you must first file an administrative complaint or “charge” with either the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Nevada Equal Rights Commission. These are, respectively, the federal and state agencies charged with enforcing employment discrimination laws.

You must file a charge with either agency–you only have to pick one–within 300 days of the alleged discriminatory act. Keep in mind, that this deadline is not extended if you elect to go to your employer first to try and resolve your complaint through their internal procedures. You can still choose to pursue such alternative methods of resolving a dispute, but to preserve your legal rights you must file an administrative charge.

Step 3. Wait for the Agency’s Response

After filing a charge, the EEOC or NERC will typically try and resolve your workplace discrimination claim through mediation with you and your employer. You do not have to agree to mediation. And the mediator cannot impose a resolution or settlement.

If mediation fails, the EEOC or NERC will proceed to investigate your charge. This process includes interviewing you, your employer, and other witnesses, as well as gathering any relevant documents and other evidence. The agency can then do one of two things. It can decide to pursue legal action against the employer on your behalf. Or if the agency declines to act, it will issue you a “right to sue” letter. During this time you may also choose to continue mediation or otherwise reach a voluntary settlement with the employer.

Step 4. File a Lawsuit

A “right to sue” letter is just what it sounds like. It is a written confirmation that you have exhausted your administrative remedies and can pursue your legal action against an employer. Even after filing a lawsuit, however, it is still possible to engage in settlement talks. Indeed, many employers are eager to avoid the publicity of a trial. But if you are still unsatisfied with their offer, you can present your case to a judge and jury. Keep in mind that your chances of obtaining a favorable verdict or settlement significantly increase when you work with a skilled Las Vegas employment law attorney.

Contact Ace Law Group Today

Ace Law Group is here to help if you have been a victim of illegal discrimination in the workplace. We have a proven track record of obtaining results for our clients. Call us today at 702-333-4223 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation.