With sexual harassment getting renewed attention in the media, Las Vegas workers may have questions about what obligations their employers have to provide training to prevent harassment and address problems when they arise. Nevada and federal law offer guidelines that many employers must bear in mind to avoid potentially expensive lawsuits by employees who have suffered unlawful harassment.
The scope of sexual harassment prohibitions
Sexual harassment in the workplace is a form of unlawful discrimination under Nevada’s Fair Employment Practices Act, NRS 613.310 et seq., and Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq. These laws apply only to employers with 15 or more employees.
There are two forms of unlawful sexual harassment. The first, “quid pro quo” harassment, involves a supervisor conditioning terms of employment, such as a raise, particular working hours, or work location, on an employee’s consent to engage in sexual conduct. The other form involves pervasive or severe conduct that a reasonable person would feel creates a hostile work environment.
State employers must provide sexual harassment prevention training
The Nevada Administrative Code prohibits state employees from engaging in sexual harassment and authorizes state employers to “impose harsh disciplinary sanctions” for violations of that policy. NAC 284.771. State employees must receive training on prevention of sexual harassment within six months of starting work, with refresher courses every two years. A public employer may require employees to attend additional classes, or retake classes, as the employer deems necessary. NAC 284.496. These rules apply to people working in government jobs, as well as employees of state-sponsored organizations like the state university system.
Supervisors and managers who work for state agencies also need to complete training on a range of other topics, including equal employment opportunity and grievance resolution procedures. NAC 284.498. The state has adopted an anti-harassment policy with specific procedures for addressing harassment complaints. Among other things, the state has set up a special hotline to facilitate reporting.
Training is risk management for private employers
Unlike state employers, private employers don’t have a legal obligation to train employees in sexual harassment prevention. However, there are powerful incentives for employers to provide the training anyway:
- Liability for bad behavior by managers. An employer that is subject to civil rights laws can be vicariously liable for harassment employees by managers and supervisors.
- Risk management. Training employees is a good idea from a risk management standpoint. If harassing behavior is serious enough to meet the standards to justify a claim of hostile work environment, the employer can be sued by victims.
- Training is part of a good grievance resolution system. An anti-harassment policy can only help to limit an employer’ s liability if it includes an adequate grievance resolution process. Managers need to be trained in how the process works and to take complaints seriously.
GGRM Law Firm works with Las Vegas employees
For more than 50 years GGRM Law Firm has helped clients in the Las Vegas area work through challenging legal problems. We treat every client with respect and attention. If you are suffering from sexual harassment in the workplace and are looking for answers to legal questions, our attorneys can help. For a free attorney consultation call us at 702-384-1616 or request a call through our website.