Texas Sexual Harassment Attorneys
Both state and federal laws prohibit sexual harassment in Texas workplaces, but that does not make reporting sexual harassment any easier for victims. In many cases, victims of sexual harassment have fears about the problems they might cause by reporting an incident that made them uncomfortable—including possibly risking their own employment.
Too many victims begin to question whether what they experienced constituted harassment and convince themselves that it is better to remain quiet. In truth, allowing other workers to engage in this behavior without consequence negatively impacts workplace productivity in general as some workers find it difficult to perform optimally in conditions that are less than desirable.
If you were the victim of sexual harassment in your workplace, you should know that you have rights and you should not be afraid to exercise them. You can determine the best path forward by retaining legal counsel.
Leichter Law Firm PC helps sexual harassment victims in all kinds of workplaces. You can have our Texas sexual harassment lawyers review your case and help you understand all of your legal options when you call 1-833-OT-WAGES or complete an online contact form to schedule a free consultation.
Types of Sexual Harassment Cases We Handle
The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines established in Title 29 Code of Federal Regulations § 1604.11 state that sexual harassment involves requests for sexual favors, unwelcome sexual advances, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:
- the conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment;
- the individual’s response to the conduct is used as the basis for employment decisions; or
- the conduct creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.
The first two types of sexual harassment largely demonstrate what the EEOC refers to as quid pro quo sexual harassment, and the hostile work environment is typically the other major type of sexual harassment claim the EEOC handles.
Sexual harassment can be very direct when it involves requests for sexual favors or unwanted touching. Some forms of sexual harassment are more subtle but still very damaging for victims, including certain sexual discussions in the workplace or conditions or employment or advancement suddenly involving explicit or implicit sexual themes.
The EEOC notes that harassment can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. It is entirely possible for a person of one gender to be harassed by a person of the same gender.
Both the EEOC and the Texas Labor Code prohibit sexual harassment. When a person has been the victim of sexual harassment, they should make sure to document everything that occurred, even if it is just personal notes that reflect the dates and times events occurred. This information will be crucial later on.
A victim who has been sexually harassed in their workplace should review their company’s policy for handling these types of issues. Most businesses ask that such complaints be filed with a company’s human resources department, but supervisors could also be the parties that complaints are filed with.
A supervisor can be a problem for reporting sexual harassment when it is the supervisor who committed the sexual harassment. In such cases, victims may need to file complaints with the EEOC or the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). A complaint filed with the TWC needs to involve a Texas-based company with 15 more or employees, an incident that occurred within the last 180 days, discrimination based on sex, and identify some kind of employment harm, such as a termination or demotion.
Victims and offenders may be invited to mediation when a singed charge is received by the TWC or EEOC. If either party declines mediation, the TWC or EEOC will conduct an investigation.
When an investigation finds evidence of sexual harassment, the TWC or EEOC may try to settle the case through an agreement that may provide monetary relief or force an employer to change certain policies. The TWC can also file a civil suit against an employer when a conciliation agreement is not successful.
Filing a lawsuit related to sexual harassment can be tricky. Some victims may be prohibited from speaking about their cases because of confidentiality agreements they signed. Action in state or federal court will require a victim to obtain a Notice of Right to Sue from the EEOC showing the agency investigated the case.
The EEOC will give you a Notice of Right to Sue when it closes its investigation. You can request a Notice of Right to Sue from the EEOC office investigating your charge if you want to file a lawsuit before the investigation is completed, but you only have 90 days to file the lawsuit once you receive the Notice of Right to Sue.
The EEOC is required to provide the Notice of Right to Sue when it is requested more than 180 days after the charge was filed. If fewer than 180 days have passed, the EEOC will only provide the Notice of Right to Sue if the agency cannot finish its investigation within 180 days.
Sexual Harassment Statistics
3 Things to Know About Workplace Sexual Harassment
When you enter your office, you expect and deserve a safe atmosphere free from harassment or painful treatment. Legal protections have improved in recent decades to protect all workers, but sexual harassment still occurs every day in the United States. Tragically, these events take a heavy emotional toll, and harassed individuals often take months or years to recover. When the harassment ultimately leads to your dismissal from your company, the financial pressure can be overwhelming.
Many people think they know exactly what sexual harassment looks like. Overt, vulgar treatment immediately qualifies as harassment, but harassment can take more subtle forms as well. For decades, federal, state, and local governments have regulated workplace behavior in order to guarantee workers feel safe and welcome. A workplace may be uninhabitable or offensive even without outright harassment, and you should know several things if your place of work feels unsafe.
Unwelcome sexual advances in the workplace constitute sexual harassment, regardless of the employee’s status or tenure. Oftentimes, when harassment occurs, it is on a quid pro quo basis. A promotion, bonus, or other type of reward may be offered for allowing or acquiescing to the unwelcome request. If you have been the victim of unwelcome sexual advances or a quid pro quo offer, contacting an attorney should be your first move. While you may feel pressure not to speak out, your future is at risk if you do not take steps to protect yourself.
A hostile work environment qualifies as sexual harassment. While water cooler talk is crucial to a healthy office atmosphere, conversations frequently border on the inappropriate. It can be extremely difficult to speak up in those situations, and people often face social pressure to go along with the group. If you feel your workplace is hostile, you should first approach your superior. If that does not work, you may want to hire a lawyer to fight for just treatment.
Inappropriate visual conduct may merit a sexual harassment claim. Posters or photographs on the walls of your office should be appropriate and inoffensive. Texas employment law offers a range of protections to employees who feel their workplace is home to offensive images, and you should never hesitate to report pictures that make you uncomfortable.
If you have been sexually harassed, you probably have a lot of questions about what you should do. You are probably considering filing a report with a supervisor, but you may have concerns about a number of possible outcomes of filing a report, such as possible retaliation or a lack of response.
You may suspect that the person who harassed you will likely deny your accusation and you will be trapped in a “He-said/She-said” situation in which a third party has two different versions of events. Such a scenario does not inspire much confidence.
When you contact an attorney, they will be able to conduct an independent investigation of your incident to collect evidence to support your claims. Your lawyer can also take steps to help prevent any possible retaliation for reporting your incident and take necessary steps if an employer does retaliate.
In cases involving victims who left their positions after sexual harassment, they could be entitled to compensation associated with the costs relating to their job loss. An attorney will be able to determine the amount that you are owed and then fight to help you recover everything you are entitled to.
The Texas discrimination attorneys at Leichter Law Firm PC have helped scores of clients obtain sizable verdicts and settlements in sexual harassment cases. In one case, our firm was able to help a woman employed by an airline parts manufacturer who was terminated after refusing to work in an area with a co-worker who sexually harassed her by settling for a confidential amount.
Founder Louis Leichter has received an AV Preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell in 2018, a peer rating denoting the highest level of professional excellence. David Langenfeld is Board Certified as a Specialist in Labor and Employment Law, with fewer than 10 percent of attorneys being Board Certified in any area of law and fewer than 1 percent being Board Certified in Labor and Employment Law specifically.
Leichter Law Firm PC has office locations in Austin, Houston, and McAllen. Our lawyers are admitted to state and federal courts in Texas.
Absolutely. Sexual harassment victims are not limited to one gender, and the people who commit harassment can also be of any gender. Women can certainly be harassed by other women, and men are capable of being harassed by other men. You should not let the fact that your harassment was committed by somebody of the same sex as you make you think that you do not have a case.
You have 180 days, or six months, to file a charge with the EEOC. People also have 180 days to file a claim with the Civil Rights Division of the TWC.
Yes, they are. In fact, as the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit noted in its opinion in Gardner v. CLC of Pascagoula, L.L.C., No. 17-60072 (5th Cir. June 29, 2018), Title 29 Code of Federal Regulations § 1604.11(e) holds that an employer can be responsible for the acts of non-employees. When any company learns that one of its employees is being sexually harassed by any other employee or even non-employee, the employer has to take immediate steps to end the harassment.