Sexual Harassment

Federal and Texas State Laws protect employees from sexual harassment at the workplace just as the same type of laws protect workers from gender discrimination, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Sexual harassment can occur in many different types of instances. When an employer permits or encourages an environment with offensive sexual overtones, an employee may be the victim of sexual harassment depending on the circumstances. Many different forms of harassment may occur in a workplace however, sexual harassment is a type of harassment that occurs when the offensive conduct has a base of sexual nature. In addition to the employer being liable under certain circumstances, sometimes individual employees may also be liable for their actions. Contacting a sexual harassment attorney may be necessary to determine whether you have a claim.

Sexual harassment should not be confused with sexual assault. However, in some cases sexual harassment and sexual assault may occur simultaneously. While sexual harassment might include any unwelcome sexual advance directed at an employee on the job including repetitious behavior, belittling jokes or overtones, and/or a workplace possessing offensive material such as pornography that can be easily viewed, harassment should not be confused with a sexual assault. Sexual assault occurs when an offensive physical touch of a sexual nature occurs. A hostile or offensive environment at work may rise to a level to support a claim of sexual harassment or assault, in addition to hostile or offensive nature of the environment. Harassment is prohibited by federal law under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and state law also forbids this type of behavior in the work place.

Our firm handles an array of sexual harassment in employment claims for clients located in Texas, (especially Austin, Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, and San Antonio),
including those arising out of:

Workplace Sexual Harassment, Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment, Sexual Harassment and Technology, Sexual Harassment Retaliation, and Sexual Favoritism Sexual Harassment

Any employee that experiences being sexually harassed at work should take certain steps to protect themselves. It is difficult to confront the perpetrator. Some lower forms of sexual harassment such as sly jokes or an unwanted invitation for a date may be stopped by simply requesting the perpetrator to cease the activity that is offensive and considered to be harassing. Making a request for the behavior to stop is also necessary to put the perpetrator on notice in order to make a claim at a later date if the harassment does not stop as requested.

When the perpetrator does not stop the harassment, the victim of the harassment should write a letter requesting that such behavior cease. The letter should be specific in nature and state precisely what actions or words were used when the offensive conduct took place. Once the harassment has been properly reported and complained of, if no correction has been made, the victim of harassment should file a report with whoever is in a position of authority over the perpetrator in which the complaint was originally filed with. Many times a company will have personnel policies or a personnel manual which will specifically prohibit certain types of harassment and behaviors in the workplace. In any event, when harassment occurs the person complaining should always file the appropriate complaint, because, the US Supreme Court has ruled that employees who do not use a company's prescribed procedures for complaints as a means of making the company aware of the problem, have not adequately given that company a chance to correct the problem. This may exclude a finding of any liability in such cases. In the instance a company does not have a procedure to follow in order to complain of harassment, harassment complaints should typically be filed with a person of authority in the human resources department. If the company does not have a human resources department to file a sexual harassment complaint with, the employee should get written notification to an officer or manager of the company describing in detail the basis of the complaint of sexual harassment.

Documentation of all aspects of the offensive sexual harassment activity should be completed. Careful notes should be taken about persons involved with specific dates and specifically described activity. The more detailed evidence that is collected, the more substantiated the sexual harassment claim will be likely to succeed. Therefore, anything evidencing the offensive behavior that is considered a basis of the sexual harassment claim should be collected in hardcopy form and recorded in a diary denoting the names and dates that certain instances occurred. Also, a complete list of all witnesses who observed, overheard, or otherwise witnessed any of the offensive activity considered to be sexual harassment should be recorded for future reference. In the event your case goes to trial, these forms of evidence to support the sexual harassment claim will be necessary and crucial to demonstrate to a jury and/or judge what activity occurred. This type of information is also especially important when the employer retaliates against an employee after such an instance is reported. The Texas Workforce Commission is the first step in the legal process of resolving your sexual harassment claim.

In the event your employer ignores complaints of sexual harassment, you may obtain assistance from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. They will open an investigation and attempt to provide a satisfactory settlement. If this fails, you can file a lawsuit for damages resulting from sexual harassment under either Title VII or under applicable state statutes. Filing a civil lawsuit requires that a claim is first filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This agency will issue a right to sue letter, providing you with the ability to assert your claims for sexual harassment in a court of law.

State laws provide for certain procedures which are an effective means of prosecuting a case against a defendant in a sexual harassment claim. See Texas Labor Code

Many Texas statutes exist which provide for prosecution of a civil claim against a corporation or other type of business including statutes in the Business and Commerce Code. See Texas Business Code

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