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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. For Sex Discrimination (Gender, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity), 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.

The sexual harassment laws were amended on September 1, 2021. The law allows employees to file sexual harassment lawsuits against supervisors and coworkers in their individual capacity, as well as anyone who “acts directly in the interests of an employer in relation to an employee.” This can include supervisors, managers, HR personnel, and shift leaders. The law applies to workplaces with 1 or more workers. The law was updated to state an immediate and appropriate corrective action must be taken by the employer is they knew or should have known about sexual harassment. The new law expanded the time to file a complaint to 300 days.

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The Sex Protected Class Category includes Sexual Harassment, Gender Stereotyping, Pregnancy Discrimination, Gender Identity, and Sexual Orientation. Unlawful actions are denial of hiring, termination, promotion or any other term, condition, or privilege of employment.

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Sex Discrimination

Sex Discrimination is adverse action(s) or differential treatment against a person, based on the individual’s sex. It can be directed towards men or women.

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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 an employee is subjected to an employment decisions or conditions based upon whether that employee is willing to grant sexual favors is another form of sexual harassment.

Additional considerations:

  • Sexual harassment can occur whether the harasser is female or male and it does not have to be against only the opposite sex, it can be same sex.
  • An employer must protect their employees from sexual harassment both internally and externally. Sexual harassment that comes from contractors, vendors, stakeholders, or even customers is still workplace sexual harassment.

If you are subjected to sex discrimination or sexual harassment, the quickest form of change is usually to address the matter directly. If the behavior does not change, use your company’s complaint or grievance process to file a complaint. The person who believes they have been subjected to discrimination or harassment can also file their complaint with the Civil Rights Division.

When investigating complaints of sex discrimination and sexual harassment, the Civil Rights Division and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission look at all circumstances around a complaint from all perspectives. A determination on the complaint is made based on the evidence.

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