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Protecting Hotel Workers from Harassment by Guests

Protecting Hotel Workers from Harassment by Guests
One of the key issues raised by hotel workers in the major strike earlier this year was the prevalence of sexual harassment by guests. The issue raised important questions about how hotels address bad behavior by guests, and the options for workers who feel abused by guests but unsupported by their employers. A worker who feels that they have been harassed by guests should bear a number of things in mind.
  • Take the high ground. A major challenge for hotel workers who face harassment is that they are often placed in a situation where they must choose whether to confront the harassment immediately or effectively accept it as part of the job. One hopes that a manager will respond appropriately to a guest behaving rudely, at a minimum by ensuring that the harassed employee is permitted to avoid the offending guest. But in the moment it is important for the worker to not react in a way that could give the guest ground to stand on. For example, it’s important not to threaten or hit a guest.
  • Do not remain in a dangerous situation. Taking the high ground doesn’t mean allowing yourself to be placed at risk. Where possible, avoid being alone with offensive guests.
  • Report the incident to management. Managers who do not take appropriate action in response to a dangerous situation at work are not fulfilling their obligation toward employees. Except in cases where the guest has committed a clearly illegal act—for example, groping or other unwanted physical advances—management probably has discretion to address the problem as it sees fit.
  • Consult with union resources or a private attorney if management doesn’t act appropriately. If a manager refuses to take any action to protect workers from guest harassment, consider reaching out to your union reps or consulting with an outside attorney to determine whether other steps can be taken to bring the issue to light in a way that protects your rights. This latter point is vital. Unscrupulous employers may attempt unlawful retaliation against an employee who brings these kinds of complaints. Even if the employer isn’t likely to retaliate, the worker’s argument can only benefit from a professional approach.
Whether the worker can sue a guest for sexual harassment will depend on a range of factors, including the extent to which the worker has waived such rights under a collective bargaining agreement or employment contract. An attorney can help you take stock of the facts and examine whether a civil suit for damages is appropriate.

GGRM represents clients in the Las Vegas area

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has a long history of helping working people in Las Vegas protect their rights. We are happy to help someone who has been victimized by harassment work through their legal options. For a free attorney consultation about your case, please give us a call today at 702-388-4476. We can also be reached through our contacts page.

Sexual Harassment Training Requirements for Nevada Employers

Sexual Harassment Training Requirements for Nevada Employers

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 works with Las Vegas employees

For more than 45 years the 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 702-388-4476 or request a call through our website.

An Employer’s Responsibilities After Receiving a Sexual Harassment Complaint

Over the last year sexual harassment in the workplace has become a major topic of discussion. Employees who face harassment can feel powerless, but the law offers recourse for victims to recover compensation. Employers need to be mindful of how they respond to initial complaints of sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment is a form of unlawful discrimination

Among other things, 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., prohibit employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex. Sexual harassment can be a form of employment discrimination if it is frequent or severe enough to create a hostile work environment, or if the employer takes adverse employment actions against the victim. Nevada law provides a burden-shifting mechanism where the victim of sexual harassment is fired or suffers some other adverse action as a consequence, such as changed work hours or denied promotion. In such cases, the victim needs to show some basic facts: (1) he or she is a member of a protected class, (2) he or she is qualified for the job, (3) he or she is satisfying the job requirements, (4) he or she suffered an adverse employment action, and (5) the employer assigned others to do the same work. Apeceche v. White Pine County, 96 Nev. 723 (1980). If the victim can show these things, the burden shifts to the employer to prove that the adverse action was taken for a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason. For many victims of sexual harassment, this burden shifting will be a mixed blessing. The employer in such cases typically goes to great lengths to show that the actions taken against the employee were justified. In other words, the law asks the employer to blame the victim. A victim needs a good attorney to ensure that the focus remains on the employer’s bad behavior.

How anti-harassment policies can protect employers

In cases where no adverse employment actions have been taken, an employer can escape liability for sexual harassment of an employee by a supervisor if the employer can show two things. First, the employer needs to have exercised reasonable care to prevent and promptly address harassing behavior, for example by providing clear complaint resolution processes. Second, the victim must have unreasonably failed to take advantage of the mechanisms made available by the employer to resolve the issue. Burlington Industries, Inc. v. Ellerth, 524 U.S. 742 (1998), Faragher v. City of Boca Raton, 524 U.S. 775 (1998). For victims of sexual harassment, the important lesson of these rules is that choosing to not bring a complaint forward may foreclose recovery through civil litigation. Whether the choice to not raise a complaint is “unreasonable” will depend on the circumstances, but employees can be certain that attorneys for employers will work hard to find any fact that suggests the employee did not take advantage of the employer’s complaint procedures. For employers, these rules create a clear requirement that they have adequate policies in place to deal with harassment complaints. They must also take real steps to address problems. An employer that simply tells victims of harassment to “deal with it” isn’t doing its part to prevent unlawful discrimination.

GGRM serves workers in Las Vegas

Enduring sexual harassment at work can be extremely stressful, especially when it leads to lost opportunities or even a lost job. When an employer doesn’t address complaints in a way that is fair and resolves the problem, a lawsuit might be necessary. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez works with clients in the Las Vegas area to get the recovery they deserve. To speak to an attorney, reach out to us today at 702-388-4476, or contact us through our website.