No matter where you work and what you do, you have every right to expect a workplace free of harassment and emotional harm. However, it is impossible to predict when the workplace may turn into a hostile environment due to sexual harassment.
There are very specific sexual harassment laws in Texas, covering unwanted advances, inappropriate requests for sexual favors, and anything else that can make victims feel uncomfortable around some of their co-workers.
Critically, a legal investigation does not only affect the other party involved. Your employer can also be held responsible for their employee’s conduct, potentially leading to financial compensation.
Many victims find it difficult to report harassment in the workplace, fearing retaliation or potentially, even further discrimination. However, if you are a victim of sexual harassment in Austin, pursuing a case can lead not only to compensation but potentially far-reaching changes to the work environment, helping to protect others in the future.
Whether you wish to launch a sexual harassment claim or have been placed in a position where you must defend yourself against one, The Galo Law Firm can help. Our sexual harassment lawyers in Austin have a deep understanding of Texas law and how it applies to harassment cases.
Taking action represents one of the most important things a victim can do, and you only have a limited time in which to appoint an Austin sexual harassment lawyer and file a claim.
Our Austin sexual harassment lawyers believe no employee should have to suffer harassment of any kind, and we’re standing by to help.
Some clients are understandably unsure of the laws around sexual harassment. In some cases, they question whether the challenges they face in the workplace are even illegal.
Illegal sexual harassment in the workplace falls into two key categories.
A hostile work environment is a legal concept that arises when unwelcome and offensive conduct in the workplace creates an environment that is intimidating, hostile, or abusive. This behavior may be based on factors such as race, sex, religion, or other protected characteristics.
The offensive behavior may include actions, comments, or displays that are severe or pervasive enough to interfere with an individual’s ability to perform their job.
Sexual harassment is a specific form of hostile work environment that involves unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. This can include unwanted advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct that creates a hostile or intimidating work environment.
The behavior may be directed at an individual because of their sex and may involve a pattern of inappropriate comments, gestures, or actions.
In the context of a hostile work environment, sexual harassment can be a significant contributing factor. If sexual conduct or comments are pervasive and create an environment that is intimidating or offensive, it may give rise to a claim of a hostile work environment based on sexual harassment.
Regular comments of a sexual nature, inappropriate touching, and requests for sexual contact can all constitute sexual harassment.
In order to warrant the involvement of an Austin sexual harassment lawyer, the conduct of another person must be sufficient to have a genuine impact on the individual in question. If such harassment leads to an employee feeling anxious about being in the workplace, or has already resigned from their position, that is generally sufficient to render the employer responsible.
Sexual harassment does not have to be direct and specific, nor does it need to extend to a request for sexual favors or outright sexual assault. Quid pro quo cases arise when an individual finds themselves being sexually harassed in exchange for something else in the workplace, such as a raise or promotion.
In some cases, quid pro quo cases can not only prevent a client from climbing the corporate ladder but may see them treated negatively in retaliation. A demotion, lost wages, or other negative outcomes can mean that a victim has a case against their employer.
An Austin sexual harassment lawyer will not only aid in your case but provide much-needed support. Negative changes at work can often leave individuals of any gender feeling isolated and oppressed. When you appoint a sexual harassment lawyer from Galo Law Firm, our sexual harassment lawyers in Austin ensure that you not only receive advice and protection to the fullest extent of Texas law but a human approach from someone that always works in your best interests.
The complexity and challenges associated with many sexual harassment cases mean that the sooner you appoint your Austin sexual harassment lawyer, the more support they can provide.
Proving sexual harassment can be one of the biggest challenges when seeking justice. Fortunately, there are many forms of applicable evidence, and your sexual harassment lawyers will help you identify anything that may help your case.
Where possible, victims should aim to document their experiences as a starting point. It is also vitally important to retain any official documentation involved in the claim, such as forms submitted to HR.
Text messages can also serve as valuable evidence, as can phone calls. Under Texas law, an individual can legally record a phone call without the other party’s knowledge, providing they are in the same physical space as the recording device. Given that most cell phones can record calls without additional hardware, this may be a viable option for finding justice, even if the claimant only starts now.
A sexual harassment lawyer in Austin can also assist in these cases by making clear what kinds of compensation victims can expect. Cases filed in Austin can result in both punitive and compensatory damages, especially when the victim has suffered financial losses directly related to discrimination or harassment.
Your lawyer will help with the entire process and help you understand what to expect, particularly whether your employer is likely to be found liable. Attorneys will also encourage you to keep records of potential losses, such as anything involving medical expenses or lost wages resulting from work missed through stress or anxiety.
The compensation limit varies depending on the size of the employer:
Ultimately, a judge will often decide on damages, providing that the sexual harassment case does not reach a settlement before heading to court. While damages are capped, the final total usually reflects an amount covering actual loss, as well as sums dedicated to stress. Meanwhile, punitive damages serve as a punishment for the employer if found guilty of enabling sexual harassment under their jurisdiction.
One of the most critical considerations for anyone planning to file a sexual harassment claim is that they only have a certain time period in which to do so. As such, it is vital to appoint a sexual harassment lawyer at the earliest possible opportunity.
In cases involving discrimination, victims have 180 days from the discriminatory act to file. This involves submitting a claim to the Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division and potentially cross-filing with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
In cases where cross-filing does not take place, a victim of sexual harassment has 300 days to file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission following the event.
Even outside these deadlines, taking an active role in the case provides more time for your sexual harassment lawyers to work on your case and more opportunities to gather critical evidence.
As outlined above, time is of the essence when a victim of sexual harassment seeks to report a claim. By commencing the attorney-client relationship at the earliest possible opportunity, your lawyer can provide complete insight into the form your claim takes and the actions you can expect to be taken.
An Austin sexual harassment lawyer will draw on their experience of previous sexual harassment cases and consider your situation under employment law. They will also consider the finer details of the case, such as harassing behavior or retaliation, and everything is covered by the attorney-client privilege.
Whether you’ve suffered discrimination based on sexual orientation or have been sexually harassed in any way while working for a Texas employer, our sexual harassment lawyer in Austin will help navigate the legal process with a compassion, helping you obtain peace of mind.
If you’ve experienced unwanted sexual advances or anything else that creates a hostile work environment, contact The Galo Law Firm today for an initial consultation.
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