Nevada Law Protecting Gender Identity, Expression Goes Into Effect Saturday

A new Nevada law adding gender identity and expression to the list of protected characteristics goes into effect Saturday, October 1. The new law broadly defines gender identity and expression as the “gender-related identity, appearance, expression or behavior of a person, regardless of the person’s assigned sex at birth.”

Details about the new law were covered by Holland & Hart LLP employment law attorneys Anthony L. Hall and Stephan J. Hollandsworth in the August 2011 issue of Nevada Employment Law Letter (see “Gender identity: a new protected category in Nevada”). Dress codes and bathroom options are expected to be among the challenging issues for employers navigating this new territory.

Although 13 other states and the District of Columbia have enacted similar protections, there is very little case law addressing gender identity and expression. Also, there is generally no protection for those categories under federal law. Nevertheless, given the new law’s purpose of protecting people from discrimination, here are some good general rules for Nevada employers to follow:

  • Address situations that do arise in a way that recognizes the employee’s gender identity or expression.
  • Since the new law simply expanded the list of protected categories, handle workplace discrimination based on gender identity or expression the same way you would address, for example, race or religious discrimination.
  • Update your company policies, employee handbooks, and training manuals and classes, among other things, to recognize this new category of protection.