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.
The Las Vegas law office of Lagomarsino Law did not represent anyone involved in any cases that may be referenced above. This commentary is for educational purposes. If you would like to be represented by an attorney in our Las Vegas office, contact our office for a free confidential case review and receive a response within 24 hours. Call Toll Free 866-414-0400.