Overview

If you believe you may have been discriminated against in employment due to your sex or subjected to sexual harassment, you may submit a discrimination complaint through the TWC Civil Rights Division. To learn more about the complaint process, see How to Submit an Employment Discrimination Complaint.

Texas Labor Code Chapter 21 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protect employees from employment discrimination based on sex or sexual harassment. The law applies to private employers with 15 or more employees, and to all state and local governmental entities no matter how many employees they have.

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Definition

Sex discrimination is when you are treated differently than other employees because you are a male or female (including pregnancy) and includes stereotypes and assumptions based on sex. Examples of unlawful actions are denial of hiring, termination, promotion or any other term, condition or privilege of employment.

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Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment can be unwelcome advances, requests for sexual favors, or physical touching of a sexual nature. If you are subjected to any such behaviors and they unreasonably interfere with your work performance or create an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment, then that may be sexual harassment. If you are subjected to an adverse employment action because you rejected any of those behaviors, that may be sexual harassment. Simple teasing, offhand comments or isolated incidents may not be considered sexual harassment.

Additional considerations:

  • Sexual harassment can occur whether the harasser is female or male. You do not have to be of the opposite sex.
  • The harasser can be your supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker or a non-employee.
  • You do not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
  • Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim.
  • The harasser's conduct must be unwelcome.

It is best for you to directly inform the harasser that the conduct is unwelcome and must stop. You should use any employer complaint mechanism or grievance system available.

When investigating allegations of sexual harassment, the Civil Rights Division and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission look at all circumstances around a complaint, such as the nature of the sexual advances and the context in which the alleged incidents occurred. A determination on the allegations is made on a case-by-case basis based on the facts.

Prevention is the best tool to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace. Employers are encouraged to take steps to prevent sexual harassment from occurring. They should clearly communicate to employees that sexual harassment will not be tolerated. They can do so by establishing an effective complaint or grievance process and taking immediate and appropriate action when an employee complains.

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Last Verified: April 17, 2013

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