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Who is Liable for Sexual Harassment in Fort Worth?

— March 1, 2022

Physical harassment involves unwanted touching, such as patting, massaging, brushing against, rubbing, fondling or kissing.

Fort Worth, TX – Sexual harassment is prohibited in Fort Worth under the Texas Labor Code, as well as under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which refers to discrimination based on certain protected characteristics, such as race, color, sex, religion, etc. While your rights are fully protected on paper, what can you do when you are sexually harassed at work? Who do you complain to and who can be held accountable? If you need answers to these types of questions, you should seek legal advice from reputable Fort Worth sexual harassment lawyers. First of all, you will need help to build a strong case, which means you will have to gather evidence to support your claims. Then you must follow the legal process if you want to recover damages.

How is sexual harassment defined in Fort Worth?

The law defines two types of sexual harassment, depending on who is tormenting you.

Quid pro quo is the legal term used to describe cases when someone in a management position is harassing you. The term means ‘this for that’, as in engaging in sex acts with your supervisor or manager in return for a promotion or to simply keep your job. Even if your supervisor doesn’t ask for sexual favors, but makes it clear you will have to put up with offensive jokes and comments about your looks if you want to keep your job, this is still harassment. 

Hostile work environment describes those situations when you are harassed physically, verbally or visually by your coworkers.

Knowledgeable Texas sexual harassment lawyers can advise you on how to document the abuse you are subjected to. 

Physical harassment involves unwanted touching, such as patting, massaging, brushing against, rubbing, fondling or kissing. To document such an incident you will have to rely on testimonies from eyewitnesses. Skilled sexual harassment lawyers can talk to these witnesses and convince them to testify on your behalf. In Texas, any employee participating in a sexual harassment investigation is protected against retaliation.

Person at computer with Pornhub Website on screen
Person at computer with Pornhub Website on screen; image courtesy of Franco Alva via Unsplash,

If you are sent sexual jokes or pornographic materials via email or messages, you should save them all to your device and use them as evidence.  

Be careful with recording conversations. Texas is a one-party consent state, which allows you to record a phone conversation, if, for instance, a coworker keeps calling and harassing you. However, if it’s an in-person conversation and there’s a reasonable expectation of privacy, recording an exchange with a coworker might be illegal. Talk to your lawyers to learn what sort of evidence is admissible. 

Who is liable for damages if I am sexually harassed at work?

Your employer is liable for damages if you are harassed by a supervisor or another management representative. The Texas Labor Code was amended in September 2021, allowing victims to seek damages from a coworker as well. You can also seek damages if you are harassed by a contractor or a client.

However, this does not mean you can recover separate damages from the coworker harassing you and from your employer. Damages are awarded per complaint, and they will include compensatory damages for your emotional suffering and lost wages. In some cases, you may also be awarded punitive damages. 

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