Two new laws passed by Texas Legislature taking effect as of September 1, 2021 will change Sexual Harassment Claims in the State of Texas. These changes brought more protection to employees whom may be the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace
Expanded Definition of "Employer"
Under Senate Bill 45, which Governor Greg Abbott signed on May 30, 2021, the Texas legislature added Section 21.141 to the Labor Code, and now state law defines an “employer” as “a person who: (A) employs one or more employees, or (B) acts directly in the interests of an employer in relation to an employee.” As a result of the expansion of the definition of employer to include those who act “directly in the interests of an employer in relation to an employee” give rise to supervisors, coworkers, or other individuals associated with employers may be named as individual defendants in complaints of sexual harassment. The expansion of the definition of an “employer” will likely lead to an increased number of claims and suits against employers.
New Statute of Limitations
House Bill 21, which Governor Abbott signed on June 9, 2021, amended Section 21.201(g) of the Labor Code to expand the statute of limitations for making claims of sexual harassment from 180 days to 300 days from the date of the alleged sexual harassment. The additional time for filing claims provided by this amendment, which is also effective September 1, 2021, applies to sexual harassment claims only and does not affect the 180-day requirement for filing other discrimination claims.
Heightened Responsibility for Employers Responses
Senate Bill 45, also created a new standard by which employers will be held liable for sexual harassment claims. The statute now makes employer liable if sexual harassment of an employee occurs and the employer or the employer's agents or supervisors: 1. know or should have known that the conduct constituting sexual harassment was occurring; and 2. fail to take immediate and appropriate corrective action.
Definition of Sexual Harassment
Lastly, in case you were wondering by now, how exactly is sexual harassment defined, the new statute reads as follows:
Sexual harassment" means an unwelcome sexual advance, a request for a sexual favor, or any other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature if: (A) submission to the advance, request, or conduct is made a term or condition of an individual's employment, either explicitly or implicitly; OR (B) submission to or rejection of the advance, request, or conduct by an individual is used as the basis for a decision affecting the individual's employment; OR (C) the advance, request, or conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance; or (D) the advance, request, or conduct has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.
If you or your loved ones believe that you have been the victim of Sexual Harassment in the workplace, please dont hesitate to call The Vargas Law Office.