How do workplaces in Texas balance concerns about sexual harassment with free speech?
Amarillo, TX – There have been many sexual harassment lawsuits that are based on verbal conversations and words that would otherwise be protected in a non-workplace setting. The boundaries between protected speed and what can be considered sexual harassment are not always clear, and courts who have addressed the issue do not have a perfect solution. Workplaces should be aware that they will be held responsible for sexual harassment, even if it only involves words, therefore they should try to educate workers about the type of speech that can cause problems at work.
The theoretical problem with restrictions on speech
One of the main issues with speech that tends to be prohibited under sexual harassment laws is that content based restrictions on words have consistently been struck down in First Amendment cases. This would mean that when a workplace, especially a government employer, tells a worker that they cannot say certain things, they are actually violating rights that would be guaranteed in the constitution outside of the workplace.
However, there have been some restrictions on free speech over the years when there is a danger of imminent harm or other serious consequences. This is done out of concern for balancing the victim’s rights and overall public safety against types of speech that are likely to become violent or harmful.
Application of sexual harassment protections
In practice, workplaces can very much be sued for speech among employees that creates a hostile work environment. If the conduct is pervasive enough that it borders on stalking, threats, or other criminal activities, this level of harassment is certainly not protected speech. Employers should feel free to take action to correct these problems quickly to minimize their own liability and potential for financial losses. There may be intervention by a labor board if allegations of sexual harassment are pervasive and need to be investigated independently.
Legal advice about harassment and other rights.
Because the intersection of sexual harassment issues and other laws can be confusing and difficult to sort out, it is recommended that workplaces get legal assistance when creating sexual harassment policies, and victims do the same to protect their rights. In most cases, anyone who has met the elements of harassment does not need to fear that their claim will be defeated by other constitutional concerns, as various federal and state laws have made sexual harassment illegal.
Meeting with labor lawyers in Texas
Employment law matters can be complex and require assistance from an experienced firm. Moore and Associates is able to assist people who have had problems with sexual harassment, unpaid wages, or discrimination in the Amarillo area.
Firm contact info:
440 Louisiana Street, Suite 675, Houston, TX 77002
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