Non-sexual workplace harassment is a form of Nevada employment discrimination that occurs when employees are harassed on the basis of their:
- race or color,
- national origin,
- gender identity or expression (under Nevada law only),
- sexual orientation (under Nevada law only), or
Nevada victims of non-sexual workplace harassment by their employers may file a claim with either the:
If the matter does not get settled through the claim process, then the victim may sue the harasser in civil court in an effort to recover compensatory damages, punitive damages, and/or job reinstatement.
In this article, our Las Vegas Nevada labor law attorneys discuss:
- 1. Definition of non-sexual workplace harassment in Nevada
- 2. Non-sexual harassment versus sexual harassment
- 3. Filing a claim or lawsuit
- 4. Damages
Non-sexual workplace harassment is a kind of employment discrimination in Nevada. It occurs when employees endure a hostile work environment due to the employer or other worker(s) harassing them on the basis of either their:
- race or color,
- national origin,
- religion, or
Nevada law also forbids harassing employees on the basis of:
- gender identity or expression or
- sexual orientation2
Non-sexual workplace harassment can be explicit or through actions, as illustrated in this example:
Example: Jenny is a Jewish employee at a restaurant. Her manager keeps warning her not to steal money from the register just because her "people are known shysters who only care about money." Meanwhile, the manager keeps taunting her by putting plates of pork and shrimp and other non-kosher foods in her work locker. Here, her boss is committing non-sexual workplace harassment on the basis of Jenny's religion. It does not matter whether the harassment is in words or actions.
In the above example, Jenny's boss is creating a hostile work environment by bullying her about her religion. Even if Jenny manages to keep her composure and do her job, she still could have a claim against her boss for discriminating against her on the basis of her Judaism.
As discussed in the previous section, non-sexual workplace harassment is when workers bully each other on non-sex-related bases, such as age, ethnicity, religion, disability, and race.
In contrast, workplace sexual harassment in Nevada occurs when someone discriminates against or bullies another person in a sexual way. There are two main types of sexual harassment:
- quid pro quo workplace sexual harassment in Nevada, where a supervisor conditions the victim's job (or job conditions) on the victim providing sexual favors;
- hostile work environment, where the boss's or coworkers' sexually-charged harassment make it difficult for the victim to work3
The processes for filing a claim or bringing a lawsuit is virtually the same whether the workplace harassment is sexual or not.
Non-sexual harassment employment discrimination cases usually proceed through four steps:
- Filing a claim with an administrative agency;
- Mediation (which is voluntary);
- Settling the claim (if mediation is not successful); and
- Filing a lawsuit (if the agency could not settle the claim)
From the beginning, it is vital for victims to keep any and all evidence of their harassment, such as recordings, emails or text messages. This evidence could prove vital while pressing for the largest possible settlement.
3.1. Filing a claim
Victims of non-sexual harassment in the workplace can file a claim with one of two administrative agencies:
- Nevada Equal Rights Commission (NERC), or
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
A skilled employment law attorney can help the victim choose which agency to file a claim with. Depending on the case, there is the potential to cross-file the claim so that the state and federal agencies work together.
The NERC website gives detailed instructions for filing an employment discrimination claim in Nevada. Claims may be filed on the website, over the phone, through mail, or in person at a NERC office. The Las Vegas office is located at:
Las Vegas NERC Office
1820 East Sahara Ave., Suite 314
Las Vegas, NV 89119
Phone: (702) 486-7161
The Reno NERC office is located at:
Reno NERC Office
1325 Corporate Blvd., Room 115
Reno, NV 89509
Phone: (775) 823-6690
The EEOC website also gives detailed instructions for filing an employment discrimination claim in Nevada. Claims may be filed on the website, over the phone, through mail, at a NERC office, or in person at an EEOC office, which is located at:
EEOC — Las Vegas Local Office
333 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, NV 89101
Phone: (800) 669-4000
Note that there is typically a 300-day time limit following the non-sexual harassment incident to file claims with NERC or EEOC. Depending on the case, the limit may be even shorter. This is why victims should meet with an attorney immediately to begin the claims process so as not to miss a filing deadline.
The NERC and EEOC often try to resolve claims through mediation, which is when both sides come to the table and attempt to come to a solution with the aid of a trained mediator. Victims are not required to try mediation, but it is usually recommended because it is often quicker and cheaper than filing a lawsuit.
3.3. Settling the claim
When mediation does not resolve a case, the administrative agency (NERC or EEOC) can then investigate the claim by such means as:
- discussing the matter with the employer,
- interviewing eyewitnesses, and/or
- searching for documents and other evidence relevant to the case
If the agency makes a finding that no discrimination happened, the agency will give the victim a "right to sue" letter. Or if the agency fails to resolve the claim, the agency will give the victim a "right to sue" letter. These letters give the victim leave to sue the alleged harassers in civil court.
But if the agency does successfully resolve the matter, the victim will probably need to sign a form releasing the alleged harassers from any civil liability.
This claims process last an average of up to six months.
3.4. Filing a lawsuit
Once victims receive their "right to sue" letter from EEOC or NERC, they have 90 days to file a lawsuit in civil court against the alleged harassers. A labor lawyer can help the victim decide whether to sue in state or federal court and what claims to bring. Common causes of action are:
At trial, victims have the burden to prove their case "by a preponderance of the evidence." In plain English, that means that the defendant is "more likely than not" liable for the charges.
When harassment victims file a lawsuit, the victims' attorneys will try to negotiate a settlement to cover all of the victims' compensatory damages. This may include:
- lost wages
- future earnings; and/or
- emotional distress
If the cases goes to trial, the victim's attorney will press for hefty punitive damages as well. And if the victim was unlawfully fired or quit due to the harassment, the victim's attorney may be able to negotiate a job reinstatement.
4.1. Lost wages
Also called back pay, lost wages comprise any earnings the victim was unable to earn due to being fired or leaving his/her job. Note that judges expect victims who lost their jobs to try to find another job. So if the case goes to trial and the victim wins, the judge may reduce the amount of lost wages if the victim did not make a good faith effort to find new work.
4.2. Future earnings
Also called front pay, future earnings comprise any future salary, tips, or benefits that the victim may be deprived of due to the harassment. When calculating future earnings, judges take several considerations into account, including:
- the victim's age,
- the difficulty of getting a similar job,
- how long the victim was employed, and
- how long the victim's employment would have lasted if the harassment never took place
4.3. Emotional distress
Even if the victim did not lose his/her job or job opportunities, the victim may still be able to recover for emotional distress (also called "pain and suffering"). In addition, the victim can seek damages for reputational harm and therapy bills. Victims are advised to keep a record of all their receipts to help the attorneys calculate what the harasser owes.5
Call a Nevada labor law attorney...
Are the victim of workplace harassment in Nevada? Then contact our Las Vegas employment discrimination attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) to speak for free. We may be able to recover a sizable financial settlement for you without a trial. But if necessary, we can take the matter to a jury and fight for the largest compensatory and punitive damages possible.
Work in California? See our article on non-sexual harassment in California workplaces.