Equal rights panel faces staffing cuts | NevadaAppeal.com

Equal rights panel faces staffing cuts

Associated Press Writer

State officials warned Monday that proposed staffing cuts for the Nevada Equal Rights Commission will increase the time needed by the panel to resolve job discrimination claims, prompting criticism from a key lawmaker.

If approved, the proposed cuts in investigative and administrative positions would mean about 240 fewer cases being processed in each of the coming two fiscal years, Dennis Perea, the commission administrator, told an Assembly-Senate budget subcommittee.

The budget plan would result in three fewer staffing positions for the commission, which currently has a staff of 19 full-time employees and five commission appointees.

The staffing cuts come at a difficult time, since the commission is seeing an increase of about 31 percent in its activity.

“Going off our opinion that we’re not just going to let quality suffer, it means cases will age. That means the cases will be in our system longer.” Perea told legislators.

“When it comes to employment (claims), we’re going to backtrack,” Perea said. “We don’t have the capacity when business is increasing 31 percent, at a 12 percent increase in cases being formalized for investigation. This is what keeps us awake at night.”

“We can affect the quality of the investigation which is not acceptable to us,” he added. “So the length of time it takes to resolve them is probably going to increase. With funding going down on the federal side and the state side, unfortunately something’s got to give.”

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-North Las Vegas, said the proposed budget cuts were not acceptable and that further discussion is necessary.

“I’m concerned with the lack of focus from the governor’s budget on employment discrimination,” Horsford said.

Perea said that if the cuts are approved, the commission will try to go through initial claims and limit the number that go forward to full hearings.

“We’ll have to scrub these cases on the front end even closer, and hope that we don’t miss cases that have merit,” Perea said.