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How Hard is It to Prove Sexual Harassment in El Paso?

— February 28, 2022

If a colleague leans into you every time you need to talk, puts his hand on your shoulder or volunteers to give you a massage you never asked for, that is harassing behavior. 

Sexual harassment is a form of sex-based discrimination, which is strictly prohibited in the state of Texas. No matter if you work in a public or private El Paso business, and no matter how many employees there are in the company, you have the right to a safe workplace. The moment someone starts harassing you is the moment you need to start looking for the best El Paso sexual harassment lawyers. There’s no point in putting up with offensive behavior when the law is on your side. All you need is sound legal advice and someone to guide you through the process of filing a complaint, first with your employer and then with a state or federal agency.

What qualifies as sexual harassment in El Paso?

Any sort of unwanted physical touch, obscene jokes or comments, requests for sexual favors, as well as visual displays of sexually-explicit materials around the office qualify as sexual harassment. As long as such behavior is unwelcome you can make a sexual harassment complaint. There are, however, some things you need to keep in mind.

Your Texas sexual harassment lawyers will listen to your story and ask a series of questions to understand how serious the situation is.

For instance, you need to understand that the law does not punish banter, teasing, or offhand comments. Nor does it penalize isolated incidents.

Let’s say that one day a coworker accidentally brushes against you and touches your breasts. You might find it disturbing, but if it’s a one time thing it doesn’t qualify as harassment. On the other hand, if a colleague leans into you every time you need to talk, puts his hand on your shoulder or volunteers to give you a massage you never asked for, that is harassing behavior. 

Or, another example, if a coworker tells you’re pretty and asks you on a date, this is not harassment. But, if you let them know you’re not interested and they keep showering you with compliments or gifts and they keep asking you out, you may have a case of sexual harassment. Even if the guy is apparently nice to you, your sexual harassment lawyers will describe it as a hostile work environment since the sexual advances were unwelcome and put you under mental stress every day.

Sad woman in bed holding coffee mug with her head on her knees; image by Asdrubal luna, via Unsplash.
Image by Asdrubal luna, via Unsplash.

Another important element is to prove that behavior you describe as harassment was subjectively and objectively offensive. Every person has their own standards. What is offensive to you might be perfectly acceptable to other people.

When you file a complaint, your lawyers will have to show that the conduct described was offensive to you, and any other reasonable person would have found it offensive as well. 

How to prove a sexual harassment claim?

If you’re thinking about making a complaint, your lawyers will advise you to document all the incidents in writing. You should include all the details you remember and write down who witnessed each incident. Their testimonies can be used as evidence in a sexual harassment investigation. If you are sent obscene messages of any kind save them all and forward them to your lawyer. If your coworkers put up sexually-explicit posters around the office, make sure to take pictures. 

Hiring a lawyer doesn’t mean you’ll file a lawsuit right away. First you need to inform your employer about the harassment and ask them to remedy the problem. Next, you can file a complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Most complaints are settled at this stage, so your case might not even make it to court. 

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