Over the last several months, allegations of casino mogul Steve Wynn's sexual improprieties have dominated Las Vegas headlines. People who may have been sexually harassed by Steve Wynn should retain an attorney right away to handle the three steps to filing a sexual harassment claim in Nevada:
- If the victim was an employee of Wynn Resorts, the victim's attorney will help him/her to report the harassment to Human Resources. Wynn's employee handbook has specific instructions and how to report the harassment to which department and to which supervisor, and the attorney will ensure that the internal procedures are followed to the letter.
- If step one does not resolve the issue, then the victim's attorney will help him/her to file an administrative complaint with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). Complaints need to be filed no later than 300 days after the last incident of sexual harassment. The EEOC will then investigate the situation to make sure it is valid and, if so, may attempt to resolve the matter through negotiation.
- If the EEOC cannot resolve the victim's valid complaint, the EEOC will issue the victim a "right to sue" letter. At this point, the victim's attorney can explore filing a civil lawsuit in state and/or federal court against Steve Wynn personally and/or Wynn Resorts.
Civil sexual harassment lawsuits
When sexual harassment cases progress to civil litigation, the victim typically seeks remedies for mental injuries such as emotional distress. Victims do not need to show physical injuries in order to have a valid claim.
Ideally, the case will settle out of court without much litigation. Failing that, the case may proceed to trial. In court, the victim (the plaintiff) would have the burden to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that Steve Wynn (the defendant) was liable.
If the trial resolves in the victim's favor, the victim may be able to recover compensatory damages to cover:
- Intentional infliction of emotional distress;
- Back pay if the harassment caused the victim to be denied a raise or payment;
- Job reinstatement if the harassment caused the victim to lose employment with Wynn Resorts; and/or
- Attorney's fees and costs
The court may also choose to award punitive damages, which can be as much as three times the amount of the compensatory damages.
The most important thing is that the victim keep extensive and detailed accounts of every incident of sexual harassment, including any written communications, photographs, and video. This may serve as crucial evidence in negotiations and litigation.
Criminal sexual harassment charges
Note that victims may also choose to file a criminal complaint against Steve Wynn. Depending on the case and the results of the police investigation, sexual harassment perpetrators can face charges of either stalking, harassment, assault, battery, peering, coercion, extortion, indecent exposure, open or gross lewdness, rape, breaching the peace, and/or as hate crimes.
Prosecutors in criminal cases have the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a higher burden of proof than what plaintiffs bear in civil cases. Potential penalties include incarceration and steep fines.