New Sexual Harassment Laws
The Texas Legislature has recently passed two laws modifying and enhancing protections for workers with respect to sexual harassment in the workplace. The new laws are effective as of September 1, 2021. Tex. Lab. Code, §§ 21.201(g) and 201.202(a-1).
Of particular importance are these provisions:
- Small employers — even those with only one employee — will now be required to comply with Texas anti-sexual harassment laws including being required to provide anti-sexual harassment training and being liable for not addressing sexual harassment complaints
- Supervisors, managers and other individuals may now be held directly liable for sexual harassment — “supervisors” are those who act “directly in the interest of an employer in relation to an employee”
- Workers will now have 300 days instead of 180 to file a complaint for sexual harassment with the Texas Workforce Commission — this brings Texas in line with the federal deadline for filing complaints of sexual harassment under federal laws
- The standard for Texas employer liability has changed; under the new laws, an “unlawful employment practice” exists where an employer knew or should have known about the sexual harassment behavior and failed to take “immediate and appropriate corrective action” — the old standard was an employer’s failure to take “prompt remedial action”
These changes are “wins” for employees in Texas. Workers should know that their protected rights as workers include the right to be free from discrimination, sexual harassment and/or a hostile workplace.
Generally, legally actionable sexual harassment in the workplace comes in two forms — quid pro quo harassment and hostile work environment. The first is where a boss or supervisor demands sexual favors in exchange for providing an employment benefit like a job, a raise in pay, a desirable work shift, etc. Quid pro quo can also happen if an adverse employment action is threatened if the worker refuses to submit to a sexual demand. Such actions are 100% illegal. A hostile working environment exists where the work culture and/or environment is intimidating, hostile or offensive based on sexual conduct. A hostile working environment can exist even if there is no effort at demanding a quid pro quo. A wide variety of behavior can create a sexually hostile work environment. Examples include a workplace that tolerates:
- Sexual remarks about workers’ bodies, clothing or appearances
- Sexually offensive jokes
- Sexual comments about real or imagined sexual conduct or sexual orientation
- Displays of pornography or sexual images
- Unwanted touching
- Sexual battery or rape
- And more
If you think you have been the victim of sexual harassment at work, you should seek the advice and counsel of experienced employee rights attorneys like the ones at Herrmann Law. Sexual harassment in the workplace is not allowed. You have rights as an employee and your employer can be brought to justice.
Call the Employee Rights Attorneys at Herrmann Law Today
For more information, call the Employee Rights attorneys at Herrmann Law. If you think that your employer has violated your rights as an employee, call us. We are proven, experienced, employee-focused attorneys representing workers across the United States in all types of workplace disputes. Use our Online Contact page or call us at (817) 479-9229.