Senate Bill 45 and House Bill 21 Expand Sexual Harassment Protections By Dan Atkerson on August 29, 2021

courthouse stepsTexas Governor Greg Abbot recently signed Senate Bill 45 and House Bill 21, which offer greater employee protections, specifically in regards to sexual harassment. 

SB 45 and HB 21 expand protections for Texas employees asserting sexual harassment claims. Here, sexual harassment attorney Dan A. Atkerson explains how these bills expand protections provided by current employment laws, and lets employees in Allen, TX, Plano, TX, Frisco, TX, and surrounding areas know when these bills will go into effect.

Longer Statute of Limitations

Under the current Texas Labor Code, employees making claims of harassment or discrimination have 180 days to file a claim with the Texas Workforce Commission. The terms of House Bill 21 nearly double that statute of limitations. Under these new guidelines, employees will have 300 days from the date of the alleged sexual harassment to file a claim with the Texas Workforce Commission. It is important to note that this expanded statute of limitations applies only to claims of sexual harassment, and not to other claims of discrimination.

Broader Definition of Employer

Based on the current definition of “employer,” Texas law allows a claim of sexual harassment to be filed against an employer who has at least 15 employees. Senate Bill 45 changes the definition of employer to classify it as a “person who employs one or more employees.” This broader definition holds virtually any employer in the state of Texas liable for sexual harassment claims.

A further change in the definition of employer (in regards to sexual harassment claims only) includes the addition of any person who “acts directly in the interests of an employer in relation to an employee.” This expansion opens the door for more individual liability. Essentially, under this expanded definition, a supervisor, manager, human resources professional, or other third party could be named individually in a sexual harassment claim, rather than the claim having to be filed against the broader employer.

Heightened Standard for Employers’ Response

A final change brought about by SB 45 is a heightened standard for employers’ response to sexual harassment claims. The new law states that an employer commits an unlawful employment act if an employee is sexually harassed and the employer: “(1) know or should have known that the conduct constituting sexual harassment was occurring; and (2) fail to take immediate and appropriate corrective action.” 

While the bill does not specify what qualifies as “immediate and appropriate corrective action,” it holds employers to a higher standard than the current law, which requires employers to take prompt remedial action against sexual harassment.

When Do SB 45 and HB 21 Go Into Effect?

SB 45 and HB 21 have both already been signed by Governor Abbot, but they have not yet gone into effect. The expanded protections officially become law on September 1, 2021.

Contact Us

If you have faced sexual harassment at work, you may be due financial compensation for resulting damages. To discuss your case with sexual harassment attorney Dan A. Atkerson, send us a message online, or call (214) 383-3606 and schedule a personal consultation.

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Dan Atkerson

Law Offices of Dan A. Atkerson

Dan A. Atkerson has been protecting the rights of North Texas employees for over nearly four decades. He is affiliated with several prestigious legal organizations, including: 

  • United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit
  • State Bar of Texas
  • Texas Supreme Court and all Texas trial and appellate courts 
  • Texas federal courts for the Northern and Eastern Districts of Texas
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • State Bar of Texas
  • Dallas Bar Association 

Through aggressive, knowledgeable representation, he has helped clients all over the state reach significant verdicts and settlements. To schedule your free consultation at our law firm, request an appointment online or call us at (214) 383-3606.

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