Sexual Harassment and The Law

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, also known as the EEOC defines sexual harassment as:

“Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

1. Submission to such conduct was made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment,

2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual was used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual, or

3. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.

1. and 2. are called “quid pro quo” (Latin for “this for that” or “something for something”). They are essentially “sexual bribery”, or promising of benefits, and “sexual coercion”.

Type 3. known as “hostile work environment,” is by far the most common form. This form is less clear cut and is more subjective.”

If one feels they have been sexually harassed, there are a number of legal options for a complainant. One can file with the EEOC or file a claim under a state Fair Employment Practices (FEP) statute.

The sexual harassment complaint then has to be determined whether the case or situation is severe, however, there is no minimum level for harassing conduct under the law.(Boland, 2002) Many cases are often settled before making it to the federal court.

Because sexual harassment was becoming such an issue in the workplace, forcing many women and men to leave because of it, in 1980 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission produced a set of guidelines for defining sexual harassment. Definitions such as Quid Pro Quo and Hostile environment sexual harassment had to be put together.

The following became defined. A hostile environment occurs when an employee is subjected to comments of a sexual nature, unwelcome physical contact, or offensive sexual materials as a regular part of the work environment. For the most part, a single isolated incident will not be enough to prove hostile environment harassment unless it involves extremely outrageous and egregious conduct.

Quid pro quo means “this for that”. In the workplace, this occurs when a job benefit is directly tied to an employee submitting to unwelcome sexual advances. For example, a supervisor promises an employee a raise if he or she will go out on a date with him or her, or tells an employee he or she will be fired if he or she doesn’t sleep with him or her. Quid pro quo harassment also occurs when an employee makes an evaluative decision, or provides or withholds professional opportunities based on another employee’s submission to verbal, nonverbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Quid pro quo harassment is equally unlawful whether the victim resists and suffers the threatened harm or submits and thus avoids the threatened harm.

The line between “quid pro quo” and “hostile environment” harassment is not always clear and often the two forms of harassment occur together

The law also protects an employee against retaliation. Retaliation is defined as when an employee suffers a negative action after he or she has made a report of sexual harassment, files a grievance, assists someone else with a complaint, or participates in discrimination prevention activities. Negative actions can include being fired, demotion, suspension, denial of promotion, poor evaluation, unfavorable job re-assignment—any adverse employment decision or treatment that would be likely to dissuade a “reasonable worker” from making or supporting a charge of discrimination.

Retaliation is as illegal as the sexual harassment itself, but also as difficult to prove. Also, retaliation is illegal even if the original charge of sexual harassment was not proven.

Today most companies prepare Sexual Harassment classes and handbooks to educate all employees of the dire and serious consequence of sexual harassment.

Steven Medvin is the Executive Director of SMP Advance Funding, LLC, which provides lawsuit funding to individuals who need a lawsuit loan for pending lawsuits. For more information please visit: http://www.smpadvance.com

Defining Nepotism

Nepotism is defined as “Favoritism shown to relatives and friends, especially in business or political appointments.” The word is derived from the Italian word nepotismo which stems from the Latin term nepos (grandson, nephew). The word found meaning when popes in the Roman Catholic Church confirmed important positions to their sons. Because a pope was supposed to be chaste, the son was euphemistically called a nephew.

Today, nepotism is usually seen to be a negative practice due to the fact that it implies that the person getting the job, promotion, college admittance, or property is usually not otherwise qualified enough to have it. There are no uniform laws regarding nepotism, but there are many different ways to create laws of nepotism or practices as well as oppose already existing laws or practices.

Some states, cities or organizations will create their own nepotism laws. Nepotism laws will differ from state to state. Entities who do adopt nepotism laws typically only prohibit the ‘appointment’ of a relative to a position of trust or emolument. Emolument is defined as any advantage, profit or gain arising from the position in office.’ Emolument could be interpreted as anybody who has the authority to fire, hire or decide issues of salary, promotion, leaves of absence and other job-related benefits for a relative.

Another type of nepotism that occurs is within the educational system, when a family member is admitted on the basis of their family’s history at the school applied to. The school district itself would have to have nepotism laws in place to forbid such a thing.

Nepotism is very common in business and it is mostly accepted here as well. When it is looked down upon is when family members who are not qualified for positions are hired. There are no uniform national business laws regarding nepotism and the practice may be openly embraced by some businesses. But many businesses have rules that ban nepotism which can include family members and ones spouse. These rules are often the most difficult for people who meet at work and then marry.

Nepotism is a problematic legal issue to deal with because of its varying complexities. While most states have comprehensive anti-discrimination laws, nepotism may not be covered as a form of discrimination. To combat nepotism, one would have to consult an attorney for the proper laws to be put in place beforehand. The reason attorneys are used is because of the complexity of nepotism and its relation to discrimination and the law. For example, there are states who have laws and legal rights that argue that nepotism against married couples is a form of illegal discrimination.
If an employer has a nepotism law in place and the state considers the employers law to be discriminatory on the basis of marital status, that is, if they prevent qualified married couples from working together, they could be violating the discrimination law. Those who become fired for such reasons often seek legal consultation.

Those against nepotism say that if one has the qualifications to do a job, no matter how many relatives work in a particular company, that person should receive the job. To not receive such a job or to be fired later after becoming related to another employee, is causing many businesses lots of legal headaches.

Steven Medvin is the Executive Director of SMP Advance Funding, LLC, which provides lawsuit funding to individuals who need a lawsuit loan for pending lawsuits. For more information please visit: http://www.smpadvance.com

History of Gambling and Casino Law

The practice of gambling is an ancient activity, dating back to as far as 2000 BC with the Egyptians. Almost every culture has had some sort of gambling within its history. Today, gambling is as easy as ever with the number of casinos around the United States to the possibilities of online betting.

Despite its ease and the fact gambling is legal in the United States, it is heavily regulated under US Federal Law. Each state has the ability to regulate or prohibit the practice. The state who has been allowing gambling the longest is Nevada, who used gambling to reinforce its state economy, since 1931. With this, Las Vegas is known as the best gambling destination in the world.

Legalized gambling followed in 1976 within Atlantic City, New Jersey and in 1990 within Tunica, Mississippi. In 1987, the United States Supreme Court ruled to allow Native American tribes to build their own casinos on tribal lands as a way to provide revenue for the tribe. Tribal gaming differs from state gaming in that tribes are considered sovereign nations and are often exempt from state laws. With this, tribal gaming is regulated under federal law.

Today, most states allow some form of gambling, most commonly in the form of a lottery system or even bingo.

While gaming is now a law but more of a set of rules and regulations that apply to the gaming and gambling industry, breaking such rules can put you in jail or be costly. Illegal gambling is a Federal crime if done as a business.

Gambling in the past was often pushed away from communities by churches or citizens – today, the gaming industry has exploded all over the United States. Statistics show gambling and betting online have even increased rapidly.

In modern history, the slot machine has played the largest role in increasing gambling, typically in casinos. According to Nevada Gaming Almanac 2001 Edition, 60.4% of casino area in Caesars Palace is slot area. Also, 66.8% in the Bellagio, 71.4% in the Excalibur, 70.2% in Mirage is used as a slot area. Simultaneously, casino revenues are largely based on slot machines with statistics showing 75% of casino revenue in Las Vegas downtown properties, 84.3% in Laughlin’s properties, and 86.6% of Boulder Strip properties come from slot revenue. Slot machines are very important in terms of square footage and revenue in casinos. (Nevada Gaming Almanac 2001 Edition)

Slot machines were invented in the late 1880s. They were coin operated and looked more like a poker machine. Players won cigar or drinks as a prize if they hit the poker hands on the machine. Then came the reel slots, invented by Charles Fey in1899.
By the early 1900s, the anti-gambling movement emerged. By 1909, San Francisco outlawed slot machines – they were followed by Nevada. The rest of California followed in 1911. Many a slot machine were smashed, burned and dumped into the ocean.

With the great depression came pressure to legalize gambling. The antigambling mood was squelched with the financial stress of the country. Legalizing gambling was looked upon as a way to stimulate the economy. Even churches were onboard, using Bingo to help them raise funds – making Bingo legal in 11 states by 1950.

With the legalizing of gambling came an increase in organized crime. In New York, the law cracked down on mobsters, pushing them from the state – which in turn drove them to remote places such as Las Vegas. Many early casinos were financed by mobsters.

Gambling provides large amounts of tax revenues and employment opportunities to states. While the practice of gambling is an ancient activity, it is still as popular as ever and quite legal.
Steven Medvin is the Executive Director of SMP Advance Funding, LLC, which provides lawsuit funding to individuals who need a lawsuit loan for pending lawsuits. For more information please visit: http://www.smpadvance.com

Defining Environmental Law

Environmental law is complex to define. Some define it as a law that “is made up of treaties, conventions, statutes, regulations, and common law that, very broadly, operate to regulate the interaction of humanity and the rest of the biophysical or natural environment, toward the purpose of reducing the impacts of human activity, both on the natural environment and on humanity itself.”

Some divide environmental law into two subjects. These include: 1)Pollution Control and Remediation and 2) Resource Conservation and Management.

Pollution control and remediation relates to air, water and soil. Conservation managements focus is on natural resources such as forests, minerals, animals, scenic areas and such.

How is environmental law established? It is typically drawn from and influenced by established principals of environmentalism, including ecology, conservation, stewardship, responsibility and sustainability. This makes environmental law broad and difficult to fully and simply define.

Within environmental law there is Federal Law, State Law and International Law. Some of these laws overlap.

Federal Law includes the National Environmental Policy Act or (NEPA). This law was passed in 1970 along with the Environmental Quality Improvement Act, the National Environmental Education Act, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These laws were created to protect the environment both from public and private actions. The EPA, for example, monitors and analyzes the environment, conducts research and works with state and local government to devise pollution control policies.

Laws that came from the Federal Government that most of us are familiar with include:

1) Endangered Species Act (ESA): Prevents extinction of endangered plants and animals, as well as works to recover these populations by preventing threats to their survival.

2) Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA): A system to prevent pollution. This law ensures that waste is properly disposed of, and thus not dumped into the environment.

3) Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA): Also known as the “superfund” this statute is aimed at cleaning up already polluted areas. This statute assigns liability to almost anyone associated with the improper disposal of hazardous waste, and is designed to provide funding for clean up.

4) Clean Air Act (CAA): The CAA is designed to protect air quality by regulating stationary and mobile sources of pollution.

5) Clean Water Act (CWA): The CWA protects water by preventing discharge of pollutants into navigable waters from point sources.

6) Common Law Protections: Common law protections allow a land-owner who’s land is being polluted to sue the polluter. A landowner may sue under a theory of trespass (a physical invasion of the property) or nuisance (an interference with the landowner’s enjoyment of his property.

State laws look at the same concerns federal laws do and vary state to state.

International law examines the fact that pollution has no boundaries. There are many international agreements that protect everything from the sky to the ocean.

Environmental law is complex to define and is always changing based upon new science and agreed upon discoveries.

Steven Medvin is the Executive Director of SMP Advance Funding, LLC, which provides lawsuit funding to individuals who need a lawsuit loan for pending lawsuits. For more information please visit: http://www.smpadvance.com