21 Oct 2021

Texas Expands Sexual Harassment Protections

sexual-harassment-protections-texas

Last month, Texas expanded its sexual harassment protections. Now, employees of any Texas company have coverage under the sexual harassment statutes. This follows amendments to the state’s discrimination laws, which were implemented in August. 

The Texas legislature passed a new law to expand protections for employees who suffer from sexual harassment in their workplace. Known as SB45, this new law went into effect in August to expand the number of employees protected by Texas’ anti-harassment law. Moreover, it makes the process of filing a claim easier for those who suffer sexual harassment.

Additionally, HB 21 increases the amount of time available for an employee to file a charge with the Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division. This legislation expands the deadline from 180 days to 300 days following the date of the alleged conduct. 

If you need help navigating the claims process, hire an employment lawyer Houston trusts. Schedule a free case evaluation with the Craighead Law Firm today. 

Updates to Liability for Sexual Harassment in Texas

The first major update under SB45 is the expansion of the definition of “employers.” This impacts who you can hold responsible for sexual harassment in your workplace. 

Under the new law, there are two important aspects to consider as it regards who might be liable for sexual harassment. 

First, the amendment expands the definition of “employer” in the context of these claims to “a person who (A) employs one or more employees; or (B) acts directly in the interests of an employer in relation to an employee.” Formerly, the law applied solely to employers with 15+ employees. This means that far more businesses are open to liability for sexual harassment today. 

Secondly, the expanded definition allows victims of sexual harassment to sue individuals acting in the direct interests of an employer. This means managers, supervisors, and colleagues can be held liable at the individual level for damages for sexual harassment. 

Expansion of Deadline to File a Claim

As mentioned previously, the expansion of the sexual harassment protections in Texas includes a change to the deadline for filing. Under the previous state law, employees had only 180 days from the date of the incident to file a claim. Under SB45, employees have up to 300 days to file a claim with the TWC. 

This expanded time period brings the state law into alignment with the protections at the federal level. Federal law already provided employees with the 300-day period to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). 

What Stays the Same?

As far as it concerns employment law in Texas, it’s important to recognize that these changes only apply to sexual harassment protections. If you need to file a claim for retaliation, discrimination, or non-sexual harassment, it falls under the old law. 

Likely, this impacts who is liable as the “employer” as well as your deadline for filing a claim. Will this cause confusion for many employees? Absolutely, it will. 

That’s why it is essential to work with an advocate who understands the employment law in Texas and your sexual harassment protections. When you have an advocate on your side, you have an experienced attorney to guide you through the process. 

If you believe you are the victim of sexual harassment, our firm is ready to help you organize and file your claim. Let us help you hold your employer accountable for their actions.