Articles Posted in Sexual Assault and Harassment

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Prospect Airport Services, a Chicago based company with operations at McCarran International Airport, has learned that ignoring sexual harassment complaints is not only bad business, it can be very expensive. According to Rudolpho Lamas, a wheelchair assistant with the company, in 2002, a young female coworker, Silvia Munoz, began sexually harassing him with sexually suggestive notes. Lamas, who wife had passed away the prior year, rebuffed Munoz and informed a general manager of the sexual harassment. Prospect had no effective company policy to address sexual harassment.

According to the EEOC report, the supervisor not only suggested Lamas take Munoz’ actions as a joke or compliment, the supervisor did nothing to stop the sexual harassment. As the sexual harassment continued, Munoz, a married woman, sent Lamas a seminude photo of herself, and made lewd gestures and other inappropriate actions, such as recruiting other Prospect employees to approach Lamas on her behalf. Over the course of a year, the harassment escalated to a near-daily basis. Despite his repeated complaints to management, the hostile work environment ended only when he resigned in 2003.

Sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The court granted summary judgment in favor of Prospect in 2007. However, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision in 2010, allowing a jury trial in the lower court to proceed with the opinion that such a trial might favor the EEOC. Prior to the commencement of the trial, the case was settled, with Prospect agreeing to a $75 thousand monetary settlement to Lamas. Though Prospect neither contested that Lamas was sexually harassed, nor that the company failed to respond to Lamas’ complaint, it refused to agree to any prospective relief to prevent future harassment. The EEOC then filed an order for injunctive relief against Prospect.

U.S. District Judge Kent Dawson, who was the judge on the former Las Vegas nightclub operator Steve Davidovici case until he was removed for bias, agreed with the EEOC and issued an order requiring Prospect to develop a policy and procedures for handling reports of sexual harassment; develop an effective investigation process for all complaints of sexual harassment; appropriately discipline management and human resources staff for failure to comply with such procedures; and provide annual sexual harassment training to all supervisory employees. Additionally, Judge Dawson ordered Prospect to be monitored for compliance for three years and not violate the Civil Rights Act for five years. The EEOC will monitor compliance with the judge’s order.

On his Facebook page, Lamas thanked the EEOC and wrote the “years of litigation and legal hell could have been avoided with a handshake and an apology back in 2003.”

In 2011, 16 percent of all sexual harassment charges filed nationally with the EEOC were filed by men. While the most frequent sexual harassment complaints are from women against men, there are also complaints of sexual harassment from the same sex. Much rarer are complaints by men that women are harassing them, possibly because men are reluctant to report and there are fewer such cases.

Since the EEOC opened an office in Las Vegas, it has settled sexual discrimination cases involving Caesars Palace, Mandalay Bay, America West Airlines, Valentino’s Restaurant, and Timbers Hospitality Group, among others. Currently, there are five active employment discrimination cases in Las Vegas.
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A 35-year old former Las Vegas Wranglers hockey player and assistant coach is facing nine charges of allegedly sexually abusing a minor girl for four years. The nine counts include two counts of lewdness with a child under the age of 14, one count of sexual assault with a minor under the age of 14, four counts of sexual assault with a minor under the age of 16 years old, and two courts of open and gross lewdness.

According to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police (LVMPD) Arrest Report, Michael McBain began allegedly sexually abusing a 12 year old in 2008 through inappropriate touching. In 2010 when the minor girl turned 14, the alleged sexual abuse escalated to sexual assault. In May 2012, when the minor girl told her mother about the alleged sexual abuse, her mother confronted McBain about the allegations. McBain denied he had sexually abused her daughter, and then took a quick trip to Oregon to see his brother. While in Oregon, McBain tried to commit suicide and was then admitted to a hospital. When the minor girl’s mother again confronted McBain, he allegedly confessed the “affair,” hired an attorney, and turned himself in to the LVMPD.

The LVMPD Arrest Report also alleged that Bain created a fake AIM email account using the the name of a Wranglers’ hockey player the minor girl had a crush on. McBain then allegedly used the AIM email account to request sexual pictures in exchange for money from the minor girl, and to send the minor girl pictures of male genitalia.

In a second case, a Las Vegas man, Diondre Phifer, was arrested for sexual assault and kidnapping of two children under the age of 7. According to the LVMPD Arrest Report, two minor girls, ages 3 and 6, were playing in an apartment complex pool when Phifer allegedly offered to give the two minor girls money for ice cream. After allegedly luring the two minor girls inside his apartment, Phifer allegedly exposed himself, struck both girls, and sexually assaulted one of the minor girls. Two days later, when the two minor girls told their mother about the assault the mother confronted and slapped Phifer after he denied anything had occurred. Phifer faces two counts of kidnapping, two counts of sexual assault with a minor under age 14, two counts of battery with intent to commit sexual assault, four counts of lewdness with a child under 14 years old and one count of indecent exposure.

Under Nevada Revised Statute 200.366, a person who commits a sexual assault against a child under the age of 16 that does not result in substantial bodily harm to the child, can be imprisoned for life with the possibility of parole when a minimum of 25 years has been served. If the child is under the age of 14, parole will not be considered before 35 years have been served. If the sexual assault results in substantial bodily harm to the child and the child is under the age of 16, a person found guilty will be imprisoned for life without the possibility of parole.
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A former Las Vegas Township deputy has accused Las Vegas Township Constable John Bonaventura of sexual harassment and sexual discrimination. According to the lawsuit filed by Kristy Henderson, ever since Bonaventura took office in January 2011, he has regularly harassed the Township’s female employees. According to Henderson, Bonaventura:

1. Talked about how excited he was over Henderson’s “hard body,”
2. Asked Henderson to wear a “mini skirt and garter” to work instead of a deputy’s uniform,
3. Tried to hug and fondle Henderson,
4. Walked around with his pants zipper open, and 5. Commented on the “sexy dress” of another female employee.

Henderson filed a complaint with the Clark County Office of Diversity. When she did not receive an immediate reply, she filed her complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Henderson was fired three days before she filed her complaint with the Clark County Office of Diversity.

Nevada’s Constables serve legal documents and manage evictions, among other duties. The Township Constable is an elected official.

First, the two sides are asked to voluntarily come to agreement with help of a mediator. If that doesn’t work, an investigator will look into the case to seek findings of fact. Those findings can then be appealed to the commission board, appointed by the governor, to hear arguments in the case and make a ruling.

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Nevada Fair Employment Practices Act (NV Rev. Stat. Sec. 613.310et seq.), Las Vegas employers with 15 or more employees may not discriminate against their employees on the basis of sex or sexual orientation/stereotyping.

Sexual harassment includes creating a hostile work environment that allows unwelcome sexual behavior that creates an offensive, hostile, or intimidating workplace, affects the victim’s employment, or unreasonably interferes with the victim’s work performance. It includes:

1. Sexist statements or behavior that insult or degrade one’s gender; for instance, making sexual comments about another person’s body parts or appearance, telling lewd jokes, or divulging sexual anecdotes, and
2. Unwelcomed or inappropriate physical or verbal seductive behavior, such as sharing or posting sexually inappropriate images, making sexual gestures, touching, or asking questions about one’s sexual history or orientation.

The burden of proof to prove sexual harassment occurs is always initially with the alleged victim. In addition to showing an act or acts of sexual harassment occurred, the victim must also demonstrate that they are part of a class protected against sexual harassment, a complaint (preferably in writing) was appropriately made to management or followed the employer’s stated chain of command in such situations, and that the employer failed to act on the complaint. Once the victim meets this burden, to avoid damages, a Las Vegas employer must show the complained upon acts did not constitute harassment or were not sexual in nature, the victim was not a member of a protected class, no or an insufficient complaint was made, and the Las Vegas employer properly acted on the complaint.

While sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim, economic injury – firing, suspension, demotion, and relocation – and other forms of retaliation -ostracization, coworker harassment, and undesirable changes to job duties – towards the victim are also prohibited. A separate cause of action for retaliation is available to the victim, and if proven, can strengthen the victim’s sexual harassment case.
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Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Nevada Fair Employment Practices Act (NV Rev. Stat. Sec. 613.310et seq.), Las Vegas employers with 15 or more employees may not discriminate against their employees on the basis of sex or sexual orientation/stereotyping. As of October 2011, Las Vegas employers also are prohibited from discriminating based on gender identity. For federal and state purposes, sexual harassment is sex discrimination. Two of the biggest obstacles in any sexual harassment case are 1) defining what sexual harassment is, and 2) sufficiently proving that sexual harassment occurred.

What is Sexual Harassment?
“I know it when I see it.” These words, uttered by Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart in describing his test to determine what is and is not pornography, can also be aptly applied in describing sexual harassment – the person allegedly harassed knows it when they see or feel offended.

The victim can be the person directly harassed, or someone offended by the conduct. Additionally, the harasser can be a fellow employee – supervisor or co-worker – or someone who has a business relationship with the employer – agent or client.

Generally acts of sexual harassment fall into two categories:

Quid Pro Quo: A person in a position of power makes sexual demands on another person by or through direct or overt pressure.

Hostile environment: The work environment allows unwelcome sexual behavior that creates an offensive, hostile, or intimidating workplace, affects the victim’s employment, or unreasonably interferes with the victim’s work performance.

Sexual harassment generally includes the following type of behavior:
1) sexist statements or behavior that insult or degrade one’s gender; for instance, making sexual comments about another person’s body parts or appearance, telling lewd jokes, or divulging sexual anecdotes.
2) unwelcomed or inappropriate physical or verbal seductive behavior, such as sharing or posting sexually inappropriate images, making sexual gestures, touching, or asking questions about one’s sexual history or orientation.
3) sexual bribery or coercion, which includes a promise of reward for engaging in or threat of punishment for not engaging in a sexual activity.

Proving Sexual Harassment The burden of proof to prove sexual harassment occurs is always initially with the alleged victim. In addition to showing an act or acts of sexual harassment occurred, the victim must also demonstrate that they are part of a class protected against sexual harassment, a complaint (preferably in writing) was appropriately made to management or followed the employer’s stated chain of command in such situations, and that the employer failed to act on the complaint. Once the victim meets this burden, to avoid damages, a Las Vegas employer must show the complained upon acts did not constitute harassment or were not sexual in nature, the victim was not a member of a protected class, no or an insufficient complaint was made, and the Las Vegas employer properly acted on the complaint.

While sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim, economic injury – firing, suspension, demotion, and relocation – and other forms of retaliation -ostracization, coworker harassment, and undesirable changes to job duties – towards the victim are also prohibited. A separate cause of action for retaliation is available to the victim, and if proven, can strengthen the victim’s sexual harassment case.
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Written By Las Vegas based Law Clerk: Robert Maxey (Las Vegas, Nevada)

When I was little, I was taught that sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. While comforting as a child, this is sometimes not the case as a Las Vegas adult living, in a vibrant and sometimes ugly, world of communication. Words have amazing power and can change the course of someone’s life. However, this power is not found in the word, but rather from the person who is communicating the message. The message that is being transmitted when we communicate with words is filled with our thoughts and emotions. It is a child’s folly to believe that what people think about us does not matter.

For better and for worse, we are subject to people’s opinions. They can carry us through tough times or push us directly into them. It is for these reasons that jokes, snide remarks, and harassment can have a real impact at the work place. However, sexual harassment may have a greater impact, being that it is often harassment regarding a sensitive nature. When executives in charge participate in sexual harassment, the damage can be much worse.

A sexual harassment case has been settled in favor of Londi Lindell for $1,000,000. Lindell worked as the Mercer Island Deputy City Manager for several years. In her legal claims, she alleged that City Manager Rich Conrad fired her because of her objection to how he conducted a disciplinary matter. Further, she claims that several employees of the city participated in inappropriate behavior and jokes regarding human anatomy.

Lindell’s case was settled with the city’s insurer. Under the settlement agreement, Lindell work records will say that she resigned from office, she will receive a letter of recommendation, and the city will pay a job search firm to find a new job for her. Lindell says the reason she sued, was because of the careers of those who had to work within the conditions at the city.

While the parties worked out a solution in this particular case of sexual harassment, it has not alleviated the problem. Sexual harassment is a form of actual pain that causes actual suffering. When people are forced to work within these conditions, they are being forced into a form of torture. Sexual Harassment is actually a form of sex discrimination (see What’s Wrong With Sexual Harassment?). Preventing sexual harassment is not just a good thing to do, it is the right thing to do.

A full article can be found here: Former Mercer Island official settles harassment suit for $1M
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Despite the cliché of the saying it remains true that children are in fact our future. Most people from across the globe and around the world spend a significant part of their lives raising children. Some of the most meaningful years of our lives involve raising children. The opportunity to pass on our wisdom experience and provide for another generation to experience life is priceless.

The task is so important to us hundreds of books have been written about it. Parents invest hours into researching the right school to send their children and who their child’s teachers will be. In our modern day there are parent teacher associations and other programs that allow parents to be more involved at school. Some parents even value their child’s education enough to send them to private institutions that can be expensive.

Silverado Academy located in Garfield County is such an institution with high tuition ranging around $4,000-$7,000 a month and specializes in a specific kind of education for children. The main focus is for troubled youth who need a different educational experience than one provided by mainstream schooling. The school acts as a boarding school and services both boys and girls ages 13-18. Some of the programs highlights include trips to national parks, attending local events and various festivals. The program is built to nurture and heal students who arrive from a variety of backgrounds. Some students are severely disturbed and have grave emotional trauma. The facility offers students a variety of mental health consultation and experimental programs to rebuild children.

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The workplace needs to be one of the most secure environments individuals interact with. The reason is that unlike a public park or street we are not free to come and go as we please. The workplace for most Americans confines us to a limited area for a certain amount of time and we are obligated to be there. It is for this reason that a hostile environment that is filled with any form of harassment must never be allowed to flourish. It is this sanctity that led a jury to award Ashley Alford $95,000,000 in what has become one of the largest sexual harassment cases the United States has seen.

As American’s most of us enjoy a work environment that is free from sexual advances from our bosses or inappropriate comments but not every work environment lives up to this standard. In fact some business travel down a very dark road filled with denial and turning a blind eye. It is this attitude and mentality that is the most threatening to American prosperity. It is a problem that cannot be tolerated now or ever for it will directly affect our financial future and moral paradigm.

If we take a look at the actions that were allowed to take place we can quickly see the immense impact of allowing such behavior to continue elsewhere and why it must be stamped out. Ms. Alford was given a job working for Aaron’s, a rent-to-own retailer, and while it may not be anyone’s dream job she enjoyed working for the company. The trouble started after she had been working there a while when her boss would make lewd comments to her. Ms.Alford was offended by such comments and found them repulsive but was unable to stop the advances. She found herself in a difficult and terrible situation where she could not see an exit. Her boss held her livelihood in his hands and would not stop the sexual advances towards her and company officials were not there to help. The situation became much worse when her boss turned his comments into acts and walked up behind her and while she was sitting placed his penis on her head. However this was only a prelude to when he would eventually hold her down against her will, lift up her blouse and proceed to pleasure himself over her.

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Abuse among the elderly is becoming increasing common in nursing homes, assisted living homes, hospitals, hospices, rehab facilities and even their own households. This problem has been going widely unnoticed though due to poor public awareness. Education and awareness campaigns are helping family members to identify the problem and giving them an outlet to voice their concerns and resolve this growing issue in Nevada.

Abuse happens in many forms including physical, emotional, sexual, financial, verbal abuse, neglect and invasion of privacy. These problems can be hard to identify but the warning signs are there. Asking the right questions and talking to the right people are key factors in acknowledging if someone you know is being abused. 550,000 seniors are victims every year but only 1 in 5 cases are even reported.

Laws are in place to protect the elderly and taking the right steps is the only way to resolve this rapidly growing problem. If you feel you or someone you love is suffering from neglect or abuse websites like the National Center of Elderly Abuse (www.ncea.aoa.gov) can help. The personal injury lawyers of Lagomarsino Law care about our clients and can help resolve elderly abuse or neglect cases. If you or someone you know are affected by any of these issues and would like to speak to someone please don’t hesitate to contact our lawyers for a free confidential case review. Call us toll free at 1-866-414-0400.

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A probation officer in Carson City has been accused of molesting seven victims in the course of his employment has been placed on administrative leave with pay pending the completion of an internal investigation. The officer surrendered himself to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office on March 22 and was booked and released. All together he is facing 9 felonies and 16 gross misdemeanor charges.

The controversy surrounds allegations that Lewis used threats of arrest to force women into disrobing to inspect their genitals and breasts. Lewis has been a probation officer since 2009 and before that he had worked for the Nevada Department of Corrections and was a deputy with the Lyon County Sherriff’s Office.

If proven to be true, this case could become one of Nevada’s largest cases of civil rights violations by one individual. The accusations gross excessive searches, under the color of State law, are likely of huge concern to the Douglas County Sheriff.

The full article is featured on NevadaAppeal.com: Another woman claims officer molested her.
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Las Vegas resident, Cameron Thomas, 27, was arrested Wednesday, January 5, after an investigation into sexual assault and predation. According a Las Vegas Sun article, officials reported Thomas was charged with first-degree kidnapping, six counts of sexual assault of a victim under 14, three counts of lewdness with a minor, and attempted lewdness with a minor under 14.

Arizona Child Protective Services (ACPS) contacted Metro Police after two child care centers alleged sexual abuse.

The on-going abuse mostly occurred in Thomas’ home, where two of the victims, who were 5 or 6 when it began, were visiting with their mother who was a friend of the perpetrator. Thomas is being held without bail and has a court appearance scheduled today.
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