Texas puts more Bite into Sex Harassment Laws: more employers covered and individual liability created
In 2021 two new Texas laws went into effect addressing sexual harassment claims.
Employees now have up to 300 days to file a charge of sex harassment with the Texas Workforce Commission. This is now the same time frame as the federal EEOC law.
Notably, under the new law, Texas expands the definition of “employer” in the context of sex harassment to include a person who employs one (1) or more employees or acts directly in the interest of an employer in relation to an employee.
Under prior law, only employers with 15 or more employees were subject to Texas sex harassment law. Further, the language now holds individuals liable for sex harassment. Previously, individuals could not be held liable under Texas law.
The liability standard has also changed. Under the new standard an employer commits an unlawful employment practice if sex harassment has taken place and the employer or the employer’s agents or supervisors: 1. knew or should have known that the sex harassment was occurring and 2. failed to take “immediate and appropriate corrective action.“
Under prior law, an employer was able to assert the defense that it took “prompt remedial action“ in response to the sexual harassment complaint.