Nevada State Sen. Richard Segerblom has proposed amending a Nevada law patterned after Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq., as amended, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.
Sen. Segerblom wants to provide individuals who can prove they are the victims of a hostile work environment the right to a remedy under the law whether or not they can show illegal discrimination. In other words, he has proposed making the hostile workplace remedy status-blind.
Segerblom’s proposed bill defines “abusive conduct” as:
- Repeated verbal abuse in the form of derogatory remarks, insults and epithets;
- Verbal or physical conduct which is threatening, intimidating, and humiliating; and
- The gratuitous sabotage or undermining of a person’s work product.
Unless the abuse is particularly egregious, abusive conduct must be directed at the employee target on more than one occasion.
It is not difficult for employers to avoid liability under the proposed bill. The bill states that it is an affirmative defense to an action for abusive conduct in a work environment if the employer:
- Exercised reasonable care to prevent the abusive conduct; and
- Promptly corrected the abusive conduct.
If an employer is found to be liable, the employer could be assessed damages, back pay, costs, and attorney’s fees.
Segerblom’s proposed bill provides significantly more protection to targets of workpladce bullying than the Healthy Workplace Bill proposed by the Workplace Bullying Institute.