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Former Nevada Supreme Court employee sues, alleging discrimination

A former employee for the Nevada Supreme Court has filed a federal lawsuit alleging she was discriminately fired because of a mental illness disability.

Tania Van Zant was a business systems support specialist working in the human resources department for the Nevada Supreme Court from September 2015 until she was fired in August 2017. In a federal lawsuit filed Sunday, Van Zant alleged that the Supreme Court fired her due to her disability after she had missed several shifts.

According to the lawsuit, Van Zant was granted accommodations under the Family and Medical Leave Act that allowed her to arrive late to work, leave work early or not come into work as needed in order to manage her symptoms during “flare-ups.”

Van Zant’s attorney, Ronald Dreher, said his client suffers from a mental illness, and that she wanted to bring attention to mental health disabilities. He declined to comment further on the lawsuit.

“She thinks it’s very important that this suit is brought forward,” he said.

Chief Justice Ron Parraguirre declined to comment on the suit on behalf of the Supreme Court.

Between May and August 2017, Van Zant was absent for about 14 days and had to arrive late to work or leave early an additional 15 days, the lawsuit said.

On Aug. 25, 2017, Van Zant experienced an “extreme flare up of her symptoms,” could not leave bed and was unable to contact her supervisor to advise that she would not be able to go to work that day. According to the lawsuit, Van Zant’s supervisor sent one of the court’s marshals to check on Van Zant, who used the marshal’s phone to call her supervisor and explain that she could not make it into work.

Van Zant’s supervisor “accepted and granted Plaintiff’s request to be accommodated,” the lawsuit said.

But four days later, Van Zant’s supervisor notified her that she was fired “based on her failure to call in before the start of her shift” on Aug. 25.

“At no time between April 17, 2017, and August 25, 2017, did Defendant Supreme Court advise Plaintiff that she had violated her accommodation or that Plaintiff’s absences were causing an undue hardship on Defendant’s business operations,” the lawsuit said.

When Van Zant filed for unemployment, she alleged that a Supreme Court representative falsely stated that she had previously failed to call out of work and had initially refused to contact her supervisor on Aug. 25, according to the lawsuit.

Van Zant also received a notice of right to sue from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in September, which is required before filing a federal discrimination lawsuit, according to the lawsuit.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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