In a recent Texas CEO article, Julie Offerman, shareholder in our Houston’s Labor & Employment Practice, discussed two significant amendments to the Texas Labor Code, which went into effect as a result of Texas Senate Bill 45 and House Bill 21. Codified at Sections 21.141 and 21.142 of the Texas Labor Code, the new law applies to all Texas employers regardless of company size and expands protections for employees by redefining who may be liable for workplace sexual harassment claims. It also extends the deadline for employees to bring such claims.
Offerman explained that under the new law, small businesses—including employers of a single person—can be held liable for harassment claims, as can individuals “acting directly in the interests” of the employer. “The extent to which independent contractors, customers, and other third parties can be held personally liable if acting in the interest of the employer remains unclear,” said Offerman. “Accordingly, businesses can expect plaintiffs’ attorneys to name managers, officers, supervisors, and other individuals as additional defendants in sexual harassment lawsuits, even if those individuals are not actually accused of participating in the alleged sexual harassment.”
Offerman and co-author, Lee Snelgrove, senior vice president of Alliant Insurance Services, added that employers must address sexual harassment immediately and shared solutions for limiting liability and exposure, including robust anti-harassment policies and training, as well as employment practices liability (EPL) insurance.
To learn more, read the full article here.