Sexual harassment is still rampant in the state of Texas and all eyes are now on the House which is, once again, considering a ban extending legal protection to those working for small businesses, with less than 15 employees. Employees rights to a safe workplace, free of sex-based discrimination, are protected under the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act. This Act prohibits all forms of discrimination based on sex, and this includes sexual harassment, or discrimination against pregnant women, but those working for small companies are not covered.
If you’re sexually harassed at work, you can use this Act to find justice, but it is highly-recommended that you talk to a lawyer first.
First of all, you need legal advice to understand whether the treatment you’re subjected to amounts to sexual harassment, as defined by the law. When you talk to seasoned sexual harassment lawyers they can decide whether it’s a quid pro quo case or you’re dealing with a hostile environment.
In the first scenario, the quid pro quo, it must be a direct supervisor or someone from management level harassing you and asking for sexual favors. If they suggest that compliance would earn you a raise or a promotion, that’s clearly sexual harassment. Likewise if they threaten you, directly or indirectly, that failure to submit could cost you your job.
However, if you’re being harassed by your coworkers that amounts to a hostile environment. Well-versed employment lawyers will want to hear everything about the suffering you’ve been through. Their advice is to keep a journal detailing all the incidents, with names, dates, and all the horrible things that were said or done to you. Any type of verbal communication with a sexual undertone, every sexist joke or lewd remark constitutes sexual harassment. Obviously, if one or more of your coworkers touch you in an inappropriate manner you clearly have a case.
Yet, you need to keep in mind that to prove that you were working in a hostile environment, you’ll need to bring in evidence that those incidents were of a pervasive nature, occurring regularly enough to make you uncomfortable, put you under constant stress, and impact your ability to perform your job.
Once you talk to Texas sexual harassment lawyers and they determine that you do have a case, they’ll instruct you to file a complaint with your employer or at least with the HR. You need to act in good faith and give your employer the chance to take disciplinary action against those who are harassing you.
If they fail to take action or the measures they take prove to be inadequate, you are entitled to file a complaint with a state authority or a federal one, like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. These agencies will conduct their own investigation into the matter and will try to mediate the dispute. If that is not possible, like if your employer refuses to engage in negotiations, the agency might decide to sue on your behalf or provide you with a right-to-sue letter, which allows you to seek justice in a court of law.