Is it Legal for My Boss to Keep Me From Leaving Early to Vote?

If you are wondering if you are allowed to leave work early or come in late to cast your vote in local or national elections, the short answer is: It depends on where you are employed. 

State versus Federal

As of now, there is no federal law requiring employers to provide workers time off so that they can cast their ballots during an election. That being said, the majority of states across the U.S. do have laws that allow time off to vote. These are commonly referred to as voter-leave laws. Not surprisingly, these laws have different requirements and exceptions for the employer and the employee. While some states mandate paid time off for casting your vote, others do not. Additionally, the time guaranteed off for an employee to vote is different depending on the state, as well. 

U.S. Voter Leave Laws

That being said, your employer may offer time off to vote even if state law does not mandate this leave. Since all employers are not created equal, it is probably best for you to learn about specific voter leave provisions before elections. 

There are 32 states in America with voter-leave laws on the books, whether paid or unpaid. In some of these states — such as Arizona, Colorado, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming — these laws go beyond just providing leave. Specifically, these states require employers to provide paid leave if a worker does not have enough time to vote before or after work while the polls are still open because of work schedules. 11 additional states allow for employees to have voter leave without loss of pay. If employees intend to use leave to go out and vote, an employer may require notice in advance.

Nevada’s Voter Leave Law

Under Nevada state law, employers must provide workers with a sufficient amount of time off to vote if it is impractical for the worker to vote before or after their work schedule. Moreover, state law requires that the voter leave be paid. A Nevada employee may not be disciplined, discharged, or otherwise punished for taking leave in order to vote. Interference with an employee’s right to take leave in order to vote is a misdemeanor under Nevada law.

So, what does “sufficient time off” to vote mean? Well, the law defines this based upon the distance between the worker’s place of employment and the worker’s designated polling place to cast a vote. The time off is determined as follows:

  • If the worker’s polling place is two miles or less from the employee’s workplace, then the worker is entitled to one hour of leave to cast a vote;
  • If the worker’s polling place is more than two miles but less than 10 miles from the employee’s workplace, then the worker is entitled to two hour of leave to cast a vote;
  • If the worker’s polling place is more than 10 miles from the employee’s workplace, then the worker is entitled to three hours of leave to cast a vote.

Nevada employers can require advanced notice from a worker of his or her intent to take leave in order to vote at the polls. Nonetheless, the law does not impose a minimum or maximum amount of notice that is required, just that the notice happens prior to election day. Aside from requiring advance notice, a Nevada employer may have designated times an employee is allowed to take leave to cast a vote in order to minimize the impact the worker’s absence may have on the normal operations of the business. 

If you have any other questions regarding Nevada laws, contact Matt Pfau Law Group today for an initial consultation. 

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