New Texas Law on Sexual Harassment Claims

NEW TEXAS LAW ON SEXUAL HARASSMENT CLAIMS APPLIES TO BUSINESSES OF ALL SIZES

Discrimination in the workplace reduces morale, employee engagement, and productivity. Yes, it’s bad for business; but a business owner who cares about their employees doesn’t want them to have to deal with discrimination on or off the job.

Sexual harassment is perhaps the worst of all discriminations because of the amount of harm it can do to a person’s emotional health, not only in the present, but also in the future.

Texas Senate Bill 45, which went into effect on September 1, 2021, as Tex. Lab. Code § 21.201, applies to companies of any size and provides a new layer of protection for employees by making it unlawful for an employer, including agents and supervisors, to fail to immediate and appropriate corrective action when that company or supervisor knows or should have known that the conduct constituting sexual harassment was occurring.

What the new law fails to clearly define is what constitutes “immediate and appropriate action.” Most likely this will take the courts a while to sort out. Nevertheless, it is imperative for all business owners to take a few decisive actions immediately.

  1. Make sure you have a sexual harassment policy in place that clearly defines “sexual harassment” and includes:
    • the process for an employee to report harassing behavior of any kind, including sexual harassment (including the ability to “skip over” the immediate supervisor)
    • who will investigate the claim and that the investigation will remain confidential as much as possible
    • well-defined “immediate and corrective action” that you determine will be taken once the accusation has been confirmed
  2. Everyone in a leadership position should be trained on the policies and how to implement them.

If you have questions about how to implement any of these practices, Ensley Benitez Law, PC will be happy to provide the level of help you need.

Karen Ensley
Ensley Benitez Law, PC
8140 Walnut Hill Lane, Ste. 835
Dallas, Texas 75231
817-538-6894
karen@eblawtexas.com

© Karen Ensley and Brian Benitez, Ensley Benitez Law, PC, 2022. All rights reserved. This article is provided for educational reasons exclusively and is not meant to be construed as legal advice. Ensley Benitez Law, PC, will represent you only after being retained and that agreement is made in writing.