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New Sexual Harassment Laws Make YOU or Your Supervisor Personally Liable

by Gaines West, Attorney-at-Law, West, Webb, Allbritton & Gentry

It's important that you have a “heads up” about the effective date of some significant changes to the Texas Labor Code which might affect you. Here is how: under the law that existed PRIOR to Sept 1st, an employer can be liable for co-worker sexual harassment if the employer knew, or reasonably should have known, of the harassment and failed to take prompt remedial action. AFTER September 1, the requirement for taking prompt remedial action has been replaced with a requirement to take “…immediate and appropriate corrective action.”

This is a HUGE change - and the law doesn’t even define exactly what that means - but it does mean that if you are being sexually harassed by a co-worker you need to make your college aware of it and ask for Corrective Action! This law also expands who can be liable for not taking corrective action and there is expanded personal liability for anyone who violates this new law. Also know that a violation can occur if the employer sees the harassment, or even if the employer should have known about it, and did nothing to correct it! One other big change is that for {ONLY} sexual harassment claims, the limitation period for complaining has been expanded from 180 days to 300 days. Each time our legislature meets we get new changes to the law. This one will have a big impact on the workplace at your college. Note: you don’t want to be the one singled out for personal liability! If you get tangled up in these new changes either as an accuser or an accused, don’t try to navigate the complaint process on your own - get help. When in doubt - don’t go it alone!"

“The information in this column is intended to provide a general understanding of the law, not as legal advice. Readers with legal problems, including those whose questions may be addressed here, should consult attorneys for advice on their particular circumstances.”

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