September 1 marked the day on which changes to the Texas Labor Code regarding sexual harassment officially went into effect. The rules affect smaller employers who had been excluded from being officially classified as “employers” in previous iterations of the Texas Labor Code.
Here are the key changes employers should be aware of:
- “Employer” definitions: Previously, sexual harassment protections only applied to employers that had 15 or more employees for at least 20 weeks out of the year. The revised Texas Labor Code defines an employer for these purposes as having one or more employees. This means small businesses under the previous 15-person threshold must implement policies or handbooks that prohibit sexual harassment and develop complaint and investigation procedures.
- Longer statutes of limitations: Sexual harassment claims now have a longer statute of limitations, increasing from 180 days to 300 days from the date of the alleged harassment incident for conduct that occurs after September 1, 2021.
- Duty to remedy: Under previous rules, employers could be liable for coworker harassment if the employer knew or should reasonably have known the harassment was occurring and failed to take proper action. The new law says employers commit unlawful practices if sexual harassment occurs and the employer, supervisors or agents knew (or should have known) the conduct was occurring and failed to take immediate and appropriate action to correct the issue.
All employers should take the time to review their sexual harassment policies and update where needed, with an eye on compliance for these changes to the state’s rules.
To learn more about the legal options you have available if you’ve been a victim of sexual harassment in Texas, contact an experienced whistleblower lawyer at Kardell Law Group.