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NERC Given the Ability to Fast Track Cases

Volume 2, Issue 10
August 20, 2003

Effective October 1, 2003, a new law, Senate Bill 450, will require the Nevada Equal Rights Commission to adopt regulations setting forth the manner in which it will process charges of discrimination and determine whether or not to hold informal settlement conferences. The Nevada Equal Rights Commission ("NERC') is the state agency charged with enforcing state employment anti-discrimination laws. NERC also investigates violations of certain federal employment discrimination laws under an agreement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The new law will allow NERC to classify the charges of discrimination and move what it believes to be the strongest cases to the front of the line for investigation without having to engage in informal settlement efforts.

The EEOC, which already has a three-tier charge processing program, trained NERC employees last week on how to run a fast-track charge processing program. While the exact procedures are not in place, current plans call for NERC to mirror the EEOC's charge processing program and complete investigations of top priority cases (called "Category A" cases) in six (6) months or less without the option of pre-investigation settlement. Only the next lower tier of cases ("Category B" cases) will be eligible for informal settlement efforts by a dedicated mediation team that is separate from NERC's investigation teams. The remaining class of cases ("Category C" cases) are those that initially appear not to state any actionable claim and are thus eligible for dismissal.

While the new law and forthcoming regulations should help reduce the long processing times that are an unfortunate reality under NERC's current charge processing program, the new anticipated program is also expected to allow the EEOC to more easily select which NERC cases it wants to exercise jurisdiction over and investigate and litigate itself. Thus, Nevada employers would stand a greater chance of having to defend against litigation with the EEOC.

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