Hostile work environment cases can be equally challenging as you are required to prove that the harassment you were subjected to was of a pervasive nature.
Ever since the MeToo movement started back in 2017, sexual harassment has become one of the most hotly debated issues in the media. As a result, the state of Texas toughened its stance on sexual harassment. As of September 1, 2021, employees have 300 days to file a sexual harassment complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission, instead of 180 days. Also, unde the new law, employers can be liable for damages if the knew or should have known one of their employees is subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace.
However, before you file a formal complaint it is essential that you talk to some skilled Houston sexual harassment lawyers to make sure you have a case and enough evidence to prove your claims.
What is the definition of sexual harassment?
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines sexual harassment as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature… when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment”.
This definition encompasses both types of sexual harassment in the workplace, quid pro quo and hostile work environment.
- Quid pro quo is a Latin term meaning ‘this for that’ and is used in those cases when an employer or supervisors asks for sexual favors in exchange for a promotion, a better job assignment or a raise.
- Hostile work environment refers to the cases when an employee is harassed by one or more coworkers.
How can you prove sexual harassment in Houston?
Quid pro quo cases may be trickier to prove if the harasser spoke to you in private and you cannot present witnesses. Seasoned Texas sexual harassment lawyers can help you prove your claim by using corroborating evidence. Your lawyers may speak with other employees who might have been subjected to the same type of harassment. Or if your employer subtly retaliated against you and assigned you to another position or cut your wages because you wouldn’t agree to have sex with them, your lawyers can use such facts as evidence of harassment.
Hostile work environment cases can be equally challenging as you are required to prove that the harassment you were subjected to was of a pervasive nature. An isolated incident will not be enough to prove a hostile work environment. For instance, if a coworker made a sexist joke and you stormed out of the room, that’s an unpleasant situation, but you cannot argue it impacted your ability to perform your job duties if that person never made another offensive comment.
Also, you will need good sexual harassment lawyers to prove that the incidents described in your complaint were subjectively and objectively offensive. In other words, your lawyer will have to prove that it’s not just you who found certain behavior offensive, but any reasonable person would have thought the same. As an example, if someone compliments your dress such a comment might not be viewed as offensive by most people. You would if you knew that guy has his eyes on you. On the other hand, if that person commented that your boobs look great in the new dress, most people would find such a remark offensive and sexually-charged.
Under the new Texas law, you can file a complaint against the coworker who harassed you and against your employer, if they failed in their duty to keep the workplace harassment-free.