Nevada has laws that protect victims of sexual molestation. Unfortunately, sexual molestation cases often arise in the home, in schools and colleges, at churches and in other environments in which one should be safe from such conduct.
Sexual abuse takes on many forms. Incest, lewdness with a child, sexual assault on a child, sado-masochistic abuse, statutory seduction, open or gross lewdness, and female genital mutilation constitute sexual abuse.
Nevada recognizes that many individuals are molested when they are very young. In recent years a great deal of research has been done on the issue of repressed memory. Children and young adults may not remember being molested until years after an event occurs. For this reason, Nevada law allows young victims of sexual abuse many years, under certain circumstances, to bring claims. A victim who was sexually abused while under the age of 18 can bring a claim against the perpetrator within ten years of turning 18 or within ten years of discovering that his or her injury was caused by sexual abuse, whichever occurs later. (NRS 11.215).
Both Nevada and Federal law protect victims of sexual harassment. Harassment can take many forms. The following are common:
- Pressure for dates
- Displays of pornographic materials
- Inappropriate sexual jokes and comments
- Inappropriate physical contact
If You've Been Harassed
If you've been harassed, tell the perpetrator that the behavior is offensive and asked him or her to simply stop. Often this will be enough to eliminate the problem. If the harassment continues, make sure to keep a record of any offensive incidents, including the date, time, and any witnesses. Additionally, make sure to keep records of your employment performance and history. Often, in the event of a lawsuit against an employer, the employer will argue that your job performance was the primary reason for any detrimental treatment. Make an effort to discuss your situation with other co-workers who may themselves be experiencing similar problems and may have witnessed your situation. Seek support from your friends and family outside of the office. If your employer has a procedure for dealing with sexual harassment, make certain that you exhaust all internal administrative avenues.
Forms of Legal Relief for Sexual Harassment
Harassment victims who remain silent often find that the harassment does not go away, but instead increases. There are generally four broad legal categories under which relief from sexual harassment may be obtained. The most popular route is filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a Federal agency that reviews employment complaints. If the complaint has merit, the EEOC will ask a Federal judge to demand that the employer take action to stop the harassment until a more in-depth investigation can be completed. This more comprehensive investigation will determine if the claim of sexual harassment has the characteristics which may result in a violation of either the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 or some other civil or criminal law.
The Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 bans discrimination on the basis of sex. When, then, does sexual harassment rise to the level of sexual discrimination that falls within the purview of this Federal law? Courts often use a four-pronged test to determine whether harassment is rises to the level of discrimination:
1) The victim suffered unwelcom conduct;
2) The conduct was due to the victim's gender;
3) The conduct affected the victim's employment; and,
4) The employer is responsible for the conduct or failure to stop the conduct
There are typically two types of situations which may result in a finding of sexual discrimination due to sexual harassment. The first is commonly known as "Quid-Pro-Quo," or "Tit-For-Tat," or "Put Out or Get Out." This occurs, for instance, when a supervisor, either explicitly or implicitly, makes employment decisions on the basis of an employee's submission or refusal to submit to inappropriate sexual conduct by the supervisor. An obvious case of quid pro quo discrimination occurs, for instance, when an employee is fired for refusing to perform sexual favors for the benefit of the supervisor.
Another example of sexual harassment which rises to the level of sexual discrimination is the creation and perpetuation of a hostile work environment. A hostile work environment is essentially one where unwelcome conduct creates physiological and/or emotional harm to the victim, thereby impairing the victim's ability to perform his or her employment duties. Unlike a a quid pro quo scenario which requires the perpetrator to be in a supervisory position, a hostile environment can be created by a fellow employee with no supervisory responsibilities, a subordinate employee, or even a non-employee. In essence, anyone can create a sexually hostile work environment, and if it adversely affects the victim's ability to perform, then there may be a violation for which the employer is responsible.
Another type of sexual discrimination involves "Indirect Victims." Indirect victims may also be eligible for relief under the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. An indirect victim is one who, while not the target of a supervisor's sexual harassment, nonetheless suffers from the supervisor's offensive behavior. For instance, if a boss sleeps with an employee, and that employee is subsequently promoted instead of another employee, the employee deprived of the promotion may be an indirect victim.
In addition to civil suits, behavior which is sexually discriminatory may also be criminal behavior. Rape, sodomy, obscene calls, lewd & lascivious conduct, false imprisonment, as well as many other sexually harassing activities can constitute crimes. In Nevada, a criminal conviction can impose civil liability as well if the crime resulted in injury to the victim.