SHLC Webinar Highlights for March 2015: DFEH and NERC Updates

By SHLC on March 11, 2015 in Highlight

Last week Sutton Hague held a special two-part webinar on March 4th and March 5th covering the topics of updates to the California Department of Fair Employment and Fair Housing (DFEH) and the Nevada Equal Rights Commission (NERC).

March 4, 2014 Webinar for California Employers
On March 4th, Sutton Hague hosted special guest, Geraldine Reyes, a District Administrator for the DFEH.  Ms. Reyes has been with the DFEH since 1980, where she started as a clerical assistant and gradually promoted to her current position as Administrator.  With over 30 years of experience with the DFEH, Ms. Reyes has a wealth of knowledge concerning employment and housing discrimination.

The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH): The DFEH is the California civil rights agency that protects Californians from employment, housing, public accommodations, discrimination, and hate violence cases by receiving, investigating, conciliating, mediating, and prosecuting cases of alleged discrimination throughout California.
Geraldine Reyes

Common Causes for Complaints with the DFEH

* Perceived lack of concern from the employer for the reported concerns of the employee
* The Solution: Be responsive to employee concerns and communicate actions taken

Brett Sutton


* Employers not conducting mandatory trainings
* Employers not engaging in the interactive process to provide reasonable accommodations to the employee for leave and disability
* It is important to train HR staff on leave and disability rights of employees
* To deny accommodations, the employer must be able to prove that further accommodation would create an undue hardship and is unreasonable
* The DFEH will look at the position held by the employee to determine the ease of having another employee take over for the employee on leave or receiving accommodation
* The greater the number of employees that can absorb the work load of the employee requesting leave or accommodation, the more likely failure to accommodate will be found to be discrimination

Geraldine Reyes


* Retaliation (Number 1 complaint): Can occur just by creating a hostile environment for employee to work in

Geraldine Reyes


Priorities of DFEH

* Quality Customer Service
* Early Identification of Meritorious Cases
* Mediation (Usually conducted within 55 days in the life of the case) 75% or higher settlement rate

Brett Sutton


Other Topics Covered
* The DFEH complaint process
* What NOT to do as an employer receiving a DFEH complaint
* How an employer can ease tensions between the employer and employee after receiving a DFEH complaint


March 5, 2015 Webinar for Nevada Employers
On March 5th, Sutton Hague held a webinar with a special guest speaker, Kara Jenkins, Administrator for NERC, who gave updates on NERC. Ms. Jenkin’s background includes working as Staff Attorney for former governor of California, Arnold Shwarzenegger, as well as work in the public sector, including extensive experience in mediation practice.  Ms. Jenkins has a unique passion for her work with NERC.

Nevada Equal Rights Commission (NERC): Oversees Nevada’s equal rights program in employment, public accommodations, and housing.
* Receives complaints of discrimination, provides mediation, investigation and resolution of cases.
* Most complaints are dual-filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) at the federal level.
* NERC oversees claims arising from both Federal and Nevada discrimination laws.

– Kara Jenkins


Federal Employment Discrimination Laws

* Title VII of the Civil Rights Act 1964, as amended
* Age Discrimination Act (ADEA) of 1967, as amended
* Equal Pay Act (EPA), and Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009
* Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAA)
* Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA)

Nevada Employment Discrimination Laws 
* NRS 613 (Employment)
* NRS 233.010 (Public Policy)

Protected Categories: If an employee is discriminated against based upon any of the protected categories, the employer is in violation of Federal and/or Nevada law.  These protected categories are:
* Race, Color, National Origin, Religion, Sex (includes pregnancy), Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity or Expression, Age (over 40), Disability, Genetic Information

– Jared Hague


Gender Identity/Expression: NRS 613.310(4) which became effective October 1, 2011, defines gender identity and expression as “gender-related identity, appearance, expression or behavior of a person, regardless of the person’s assigned sex at birth.”

Gender Identity or Expression Discrimination
Examples of what gender identity or expression discrimination might look like include:
* Job offer rescinded when employee announced transition, or when transgender status was revealed
* Harassed, Demoted, Discharged,  Assigned undesirable duties/prevented from customer interaction
* Individual denied the use of appropriate bathroom
Intentional misuse of pronouns

– Jared Hague


Gender Identity or Expression- Bathroom Usage
* An individual may use the bathroom, or other gender-specific facilities, that coincides with his/her gender identity or expression
* Do not have to “prove” gender
* “Sincerely held” standard
* Cannot question the truth, validity or reasonableness of an individual’s gender identity or expression, as long as they are “sincerely held” by the individual

– Kara Jenkins


Gender Identity or Expression – Grooming and Dress Code
Employment NRS 613.350 (6) states that it is not an unlawful employment practice for an employer to require employees to adhere to reasonable workplace appearance, grooming and dress standards so long as such requirements are not precluded by law; except, that an employer shall allow an employee to appear, groom and dress consistent with the employee’s gender identity or expression

Other Topics Covered
* Pregnancy Discrimination Act
* Undue hardship to employer under ADA
* Medical marijuana use by employee with disability

CD’s and MP3 recordings of the webinars are available for purchase for $30! For more information you can email