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Understanding Austin, Texas’s New Sexual Harassment Laws

New Texas sexual harassment regulations, such as Senate Bill 45 and House Bill 21, give employees more protection. Employers must act immediately to comply with the new regulations. This blog discusses the specifics of the legislation as well as the preventive steps that businesses should take. Contact an Austin sexual harassment lawyer to understand more about the laws.

What are the new changes?

Employers in Texas should be aware of three significant changes to the Sexual Harassment Act: a new statute of limitations, a larger definition of “Employer,” and a higher standard for responding to complaints. Each modification will be thoroughly examined.

Statute of limitations:

Employees in Texas now have 300 days under House Bill 21 to submit a sexual harassment complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission, an extension from the previous 180-day restriction. Only claims for sexual harassment brought forth on or after September 1, 2021, are covered by this extension. This extended filing time does not apply to other complaints or claims.

A broader definition:

Senate Bill 45 increases the term “Employer” under Texas’ new sexual harassment legislation. It broadens the scope by defining an employer as someone who:

In contrast to federal law, which applies only to companies with 15 or more workers, Texas law makes anybody who employs one or more employees accountable for sexual harassment. This extension eliminates the employment threshold and extends to all industries, requiring Texas firms of all sizes to comply.

The term “employer” in Texas under the new sexual harassment statute now includes anyone who acts on behalf of the employer in relation to an employee. Managers, supervisors, HR professionals, and people with control over workers are all held liable for sexual harassment under this broader definition, regardless of their direct involvement in the harassment.

Employer’s response:

Senate Bill 45 establishes a new standard for businesses to follow when responding to sexual harassment accusations. Employers are responsible under the new legislation if they knew or should have known about the harassment but did not take immediate and effective corrective action. This criterion emphasizes the need of responding quickly and effectively to claims of sexual harassment.

Final thoughts:

 

Employers must now demonstrate documentation of quick and effective corrective action done prior to the filing of the complaint. The meaning of such conduct will be defined by Texas courts, but it increases the bar for employers by emphasizing the need for preventative steps.

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