Overview

Parsons’ Civil Rights team comprised of Brandon J. Mark, Michael W. Young. Lauren M. Hunt and Sherie Ross represented Nicole Gililland in a suit against Southwestern Oregon Community College in what could be the first-of-a-kind win for sex workers who are discriminated against at school and work. After a two-week jury trial in federal court in Eugene, Oregon on breach of contract and Title IX claims, Parsons’ attorneys secured a win on the breach of contract charge, which resulted in a $1.7M damages award. Gililland worked in the adult entertainment industry but wished to become a nurse. 

After dedicated effort, Parsons’ client was admitted to Southwestern Oregon Community College nursing school. After disclosing her past to a professor, that professor began a campaign of harassment and discrimination that spread from one professor to many, including changing grades from passing to failing; giving her assignments other students were not required to undertake; accusing her of plagiarism; and docking her grades for lateness, even though she had been assured of accommodation. A professor confronted Gililland, saying, “Unclassy women shouldn’t be nurses, Nicole.” Investigations requested by Gililland were either improperly done or ignored by the school and the nursing board. This targeting eventually forced Gililland out of the program at the beginning of her senior year of nursing school. The harassment and gaslighting Gililland underwent at the college drove her to attempt suicide in 2018. When she recovered, even though she was forced to give up on nursing school, she was determined to find justice and sued the college.

Gililland later attended Southern New Hampshire University where she restarted her undergraduate degree, earning top grades. She has now completed her first year of law school at the University of Massachusetts – Amhurst where she received a full-ride scholarship.

Read more about this precedent-setting case in the following publications:

Vice https://www.vice.com/en/article/93ab8d/former-porn-performer-sued-her-school-for-discrimination

Rolling Stone https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/jury-awards-1-7-million-120413801.html

Bloomberg Law https://news.bloomberglaw.com/daily-labor-report/prior-sex-work-haunts-employees-returning-to-traditional-jobs

 Inside Higher Education https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2022/07/13/former-porn-performer-wins-suit-against-community-college

Team