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When Enough is Enough: How to Report Sexual Harassment

— March 3, 2022

Retaliation is illegal and seasoned lawyers can add this charge to the sexual harassment complaint.

Austin, TX – Sexual harassment is prohibited in Texas under the state Labor Code as well as under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Until recently, the Texas Labor Code only applied to businesses with 15 or more employees, which left a great number of people working in small companies without legal protection. That changed in September 2021, when the Labor Code was amended to cover people working in any sort of business entity, even if they are the sole employee. If you believe you have a case, you should look up the best Austin sexual harassment lawyers right away and start preparing your complaint.

How to make a sexual harassment complaint in Austin

When you contact experienced Texas sexual harassment lawyers, they will tell you that you need to start by telling your harassers to stop. Many victims avoid confronting their harassers. They pretend they didn’t hear anything or that it doesn’t bother them hoping they’ll be left alone. Such an attitude may hurt your chances of making a successful complaint as your harassers might argue they didn’t know their behavior was unwelcome. You must tell them to their face that their behavior is offensive to you and they should stop. Don’t provoke an argument, though.

In most cases, such a warning won’t stop the harassment and you can proceed to the next step – complaining to your employer or your HR department. If the company has an anti-discrimination policy, it should describe the mechanism for internal complaints and indicate who you should talk to.

It’s best to put your complaint in writing and get proof they received it. According to the law, the employer must be given the opportunity to address the situation and take appropriate measures. If they’re not given a chance to do something, they may argue they had no idea of what you were going through so they cannot possibly be held liable for damages.

Image credit Monika Svajdova on Wunderstock (license).
Image credit Monika Svajdova on Wunderstock (license).

Your employer must investigate the situation and you may be represented by reliable sexual harassment lawyers at this stage. If your employer takes active measures to remedy the problem, so much the better.  But, there’s always the risk that won’t happen and your boss will side with the harassers, accusing you of exaggerating and looking for trouble. They may even retaliate against you, which is the last thing you need at this point. Keep in mind, though, that retaliation is illegal and seasoned lawyers can add this charge to the sexual harassment complaint.

The last step is filing a formal complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission or the federal Equal Employment Commission. In Texas, you have 300 days from the date of the offensive incident to file a complaint.

You’ll need good lawyers to help you write the complaint and submit evidence supporting your claims. You can present copies of the offensive messages sent to you, photos of sexually-implicit posters or drawing displayed around the office, as well as testimonies of eyewitnesses. Don’t be afraid no one will want to support your case. They will if your lawyers explain to them that retaliating against employees helping with such an investigation is against the law in Texas.

Best case scenario – the EEOC or the TWC will negotiate a settlement between you and your employer. If that doesn’t happen, you may be given the option to file a lawsuit against your employer.

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