Sexual Harassment Training Requirements in Texas – Is Your Business Compliant?

AdobeStock_295110466-300x132Sexual harassment training is not necessary for non-government workers in Texas but is required for all state employees. If you are dealing with sexual harassment concerns in your workplace, makes sure you speak to a Texas employment attorney.

Changes to Texas sexual harassment laws last year have now made more companies view sexual harassment training as being more of a necessity. Sexual harassment training in the workplace may help employers avoid costly lawsuits and reduce potential employer liability.

New Texas Sexual Harassment Laws

Texas Senate Bill 45 (SB 45) was the state law amending Chapter 21 of the Texas Labor Code to expand liability to include individuals and business entities. Under this law, sexual harassment is now defined as an unwelcome sexual advance, requests for sexual favors, or any other kind of verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature if:

  • submission to an advance, request, or conduct is explicitly or implicitly made a term or condition of a person’s employment
  • submission to or rejection of an advance, request, or conduct by a person is used as the basis for a decision affecting a person’s employment
  • an advance, request, or conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with a person’s work performance
  • an advance, request, or conduct has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment

Texas Labor Code § 21.142 establishes that an employer commits an unlawful employment practice when sexual harassment of an employee occurs and an employer or an employer’s agents or supervisors know or should have known the conduct constituting sexual harassment was occurring, and they fail to take immediate and appropriate corrective action. The passage of SB 45 meant that Texas now offers more protection than federal law for sexual harassment victims in the workplace.

Texas House Bill 21 (HB 21) also increased the time for which employees can file sexual harassment charges with the Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division from 180 days to 300 days from the date that conduct occurred. Whereas the Texas Labor Code used to limit liability for sexual harassment claims to employers with at least 15 employees and the businesses themselves instead of individuals, employers of any size can now be sued for sexual harassment in Texas, and individuals can be liable too.

What Sexual Harassment Training Should Include

Sexual harassment training is intended for potential victims of sexual harassment to know their legal rights but more for potential harassers to understand why the conduct is unacceptable. Any sexual harassment training should send a clear message condemning sexual harassment and emphasize a company’s commitment to providing a safe workplace.

The topics you will want to address in your sexual harassment training should include:

  • The definition of sexual harassment under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Texas Labor Code
  • Your company policy against sexual harassment
  • Defining what constitutes unwelcome conduct
  • Defining a hostile work environment, quid pro quo, and bullying
  • Explaining how to deal with sexual harassment
  • Discussing what bystander intervention is
  • Explaining illegal retaliation
  • Telling people how to file complaints
  • Explaining company procedures for investigation and resolution of sexual harassment claims

Call Us Today to Speak with a Texas Employment Attorney

Are you dealing with a sexual harassment issue in your workplace? When you need help getting real results, make sure to work with a Texas employment lawyer.

Structure Law Group, LLP believes all people should be free from harassing behavior in their workplaces, and we can work to help you get the action you need to be taken. Please call (512) 881-7500 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with our Texas employment attorney.