As of today, Texas prohibits sexual harassment in workplaces of all sizes. Federal and Texas law already prohibited sexual harassment in employment for employers with 15 or more employees.
Sexual harassment can include (but isn’t limited to) unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, offensive comments about a person’s sex, lewd remarks, unwanted touching, leering, commenting on someone’s body, and displaying or distributing derogatory content. While a single instance of offensive behavior (unless severe) generally won’t be considered unlawful harassment, even mildly offensive behavior that is ongoing can rise to the level of illegal harassment.
The person who is affected or bothered by a behavior doesn’t have to be the target or subject of that behavior. For instance, if a group of men regularly has conversations that are disparaging of women, a male co-worker who is offended by the conversations could report (and ultimately file a lawsuit about) that behavior.
Employers are responsible for taking prompt corrective measures to address sexual harassment they know or should know is happening. Prompt is not defined by law, but we generally recommend that employers begin an investigation into a complaint immediately (that day or the next) and try to resolve the issue within a week.
If you don’t yet have a sexual harassment policy, you should implement one, and add it to your employee handbook or ensure that all employees receive and acknowledge a copy. You can access a Sexual and Other Unlawful Harassment policy in the Policy Library on the HR Support Center. We also recommend training managers, if not everyone, on sexual and other unlawful harassment.