Texas Employers: Take Note of New Law on Sexual Harassment Claims

Two people meeting in office

Beginning September 1, 2021, sexual harassment laws in Texas will change. Here’s what your company needs to know.

In Texas, new regulations on sexual harassment claims mean that employers of all sizes may be liable for sexual harassment claims brought on by their employees. Now’s the time for employers to review workplace policies that not only keep employees safe but comply with the current law. 

There are several changes from the previous legislation under Chapter 21 of the Texas Labor Code. The most notable changes will expand which employers are liable and the statute of limitations for filing a claim. 

Which employers are liable?

All employers. Previously, employers needed to have at least 15 employees to be covered by the law. Now, any employer with at least one employee can be held liable for sexual harassment. 

Individual liability

Before, employees could only sue their employing company for sexual harassment. The new legislation includes liability for anyone who “acts directly in the interests of an employer in relation to an employee,” such as managers or supervisors.  

Standards for an employer’s response

The current law requires “prompt, remedial action” after a sexual harassment complaint. Now, unlawful employment practice occurs when a supervisor(s) knew or should have known that an employee was sexually harassed and failed to take “immediate and appropriate corrective action.” 

This is a subtle shift in responsibility that makes leadership more directly responsible to act on any harassment they know of; not just the cases that have been reported.

Longer statute of limitations

Employees can make sexual harassment claims up to 300 days from the date of the alleged sexual harassment. Previously, employees had 180 days to bring claims. 

Defining sexual harassment 

The Texas Labor Code added a detailed definition of sexual harassment. It is now defined as an unwelcome sexual advance, a request for a sexual favor, or any other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature if:

  • It’s a condition of employment, either explicitly or implicitly;
  • It is used in a decision about the person’s employment;
  • It unreasonably interferes with a person’s work performance; or
  • It creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.

Your business is a better place to work when employees know where to go with concerns and leaders are prepared to take action. Contact your Nextep HR Business Partner if you have any questions or concerns about this update, we are here to help!

Read more about steps company leaders can take for a safer workplace. 

Read more

Also on Nextep

Several states and local jurisdictions will increase their minimum wage rates on July 1, 2024. Below is a summary of these changes and guidelines to help you comply with your minimum wage requirements.  As a reminder, when federal and state or local payroll laws differ, the employer must adhere to the law that benefits the […]
Read more
Get ready for changes! As of July 1, 2024, a new wave of state laws are set to go into effect across the country. These updates impact everything from worker protections and minimum wage to important regulations for businesses. Whether you’re an employer, employee, or simply a resident staying informed, this article will guide you […]
Read more
A Game Changer for Employers The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently made a significant change regarding employers’ use of non-compete agreements. The final rule issued by the FTC prohibits the use of non-compete agreements for many workers, which is a departure from the longstanding practices of many companies. This decision is already facing legal challenges, […]
Read more
Key Points for Employers About the Latest Harassment Guidance The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has recently updated its guidelines on workplace harassment enforcement. This was the EEOC’s first update in more than 30 years. The updates are intended to clarify and modernize existing standards. These changes take into account recent legal developments and the […]
Read more
What You Need to Know About PWFA The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently released the final regulations for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). These regulations, taking effect on June 18, 2024, update the PWFA rules put into place in 2023 and significantly impact how employers with at least 15 employees accommodate workers with […]
Read more
When Addiction Strikes at Work The issue of addiction in the workplace presents a complex challenge for both employers and employees. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects qualified individuals with disabilities, but active addiction itself isn’t necessarily covered. Here’s a breakdown of rights and responsibilities: Employee Rights Under the ADA Generally Not Covered: The […]
Read more
What is Considered “Reasonable”? What happens when an employee with a disability needs an adjustment to perform their job effectively? This is where reasonable accommodations come in. However, the question often arises: what exactly is considered “reasonable” under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? Striking a Balance The key is to find a balance between […]
Read more
It’s time for an ADA refresher! The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a cornerstone of civil rights legislation, ensuring equal employment opportunities for people with disabilities. As an employer, understanding your obligations under the ADA is crucial. Here’s a breakdown of the key points: What qualifies as a disability? The ADA defines a person […]
Read more
Forced to listen? Imagine this: Your boss calls a mandatory meeting. Instead of discussing work tasks, they spend the time telling you why you should support a political candidate or a particular religious view. That’s a captive audience meeting, and it’s becoming a hot-button issue. A captive audience meeting is a mandatory work meeting where […]
Read more
At some point during the election cycle, you may encounter employees wanting to display political propaganda at work.  This can range from flags and posters to social media posts and even conversations, and it can create a tense and uncomfortable atmosphere for colleagues with differing viewpoints. So, how do you maintain a respectful workplace while […]
Read more
As a presidential election year unfolds, employers must navigate the complex landscape of voting leave laws to uphold employees’ rights while ensuring compliance with state regulations. While federal law does not mandate time off to vote, many states have enacted specific provisions. Here’s what employers need to know to navigate this terrain effectively. Understanding State […]
Read more
An Employer’s Guide to Politics in the Workplace The current political climate can be divisive, and tension can easily spill over into the workplace. When employees hold vastly different political views, it can lead to arguments, hurt feelings, and a fractured work environment. So, what’s an employer’s responsibility when it comes to politics in the […]
Read more

Download Our App


Download the Nextep Mobile App in Apple iOS or Google Play