Learn about Texas laws and procedures for handling workplace sexual harassment lawsuits in this informative article.
Unfortunately, sexual harassment in the workplace is more common than you’d expect. When these situations occur, it’s crucial that the victim files a lawsuit in order to protect themselves and others. However, many times it’s unclear what is considered sexual harassment and what a person should do in such circumstances. While a lawyer plays an important role during this process, many victims involved in the lawsuit feel more comfortable reading about it before they even start the process. That’s why we’ve provided information on what is considered sexual harassment in the workplace and how these lawsuits are handled in Texas.
What Is Considered Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?
In Texas, sexual harassment in the workplace is considered to be any unwanted or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
Examples of behavior that may constitute sexual harassment in the workplace include, but are not limited to:
- Unwanted physical touching or fondling
- Sexual propositions or advances
- Comments about a person’s body or clothing
- Suggestive or obscene gestures
- Leering or ogling
- Making sexually explicit statements or jokes
- Displaying sexually suggestive objects or pictures
- Sending sexually explicit emails, text messages, or notes
- Physical assault of a sexual nature
It’s important to note that sexual harassment can occur between individuals of any gender and can be committed by a supervisor, coworker, customer, or even a non-employee. Employers are responsible for maintaining a workplace free from sexual harassment and can be held liable for the actions of their employees if they knew or should have known about the harassment and failed to take appropriate action.
How Is a Workplace Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Handled in Texas?
In Texas, workplace sexual harassment is a form of illegal discrimination and is prohibited under both federal and state law. The primary laws governing workplace sexual harassment in Texas are Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Texas Labor Code. When a workplace sexual harassment lawsuit is filed in Texas, the following steps are typically involved:
- Filing a complaint: The first step in handling a workplace sexual harassment lawsuit in Texas is for the victim to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). The complaint must be filed within 180 days of the last act of harassment.
- Investigation: Once the complaint is filed, the EEOC or TWC will initiate an investigation into the allegations of sexual harassment. This may involve interviewing witnesses, collecting evidence, and reviewing any relevant policies or procedures.
- Right to Sue Letter: If the investigation finds sufficient evidence of workplace sexual harassment, the EEOC or TWC will issue a Right to Sue letter to the victim. This letter gives the victim the right to file a lawsuit in federal or state court, respectively.
- Filing a Lawsuit: The victim can then file a workplace sexual harassment lawsuit in federal or state court. The lawsuit will detail the allegations of sexual harassment and any other damages suffered as a result.
- Discovery: After the lawsuit is filed, both parties will engage in a discovery process, where they will gather and exchange relevant information about the case. This may include depositions, interrogatories, and the production of documents.
- Trial: If the case cannot be resolved through settlement, it will proceed to trial. A jury will hear the evidence and decide whether workplace sexual harassment occurred and if so, what damages should be awarded to the victim.
- Appeal: Either party can appeal the verdict if they disagree with the outcome of the trial.
In Texas, workplace sexual harassment lawsuits can result in monetary damages, including lost wages and benefits, emotional distress, and attorney’s fees. The victim may also be able to seek reinstatement in their previous position or other injunctive relief.
Seeking Legal Guidance
It’s important for victims of workplace sexual harassment in Texas to seek the assistance of a qualified attorney to help them navigate the legal process and protect their rights.
At AMS Law Group, we pride ourselves on providing excellent legal services to all of our clients. If you or someone you know is experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace, please contact us for a free case review.