Hicks Thomas partner Stewart Hoffer was interviewed by Law360 in an article discussing the new sexual harassment laws now in effect in Texas. The article, “What to Know About Texas’ New Sexual Harassment Laws,” (subscription required) highlights changes to the law that expand sexual harassment protections for employees in the workplace.
The new laws, which went into effect September 1, are significant in that they are in some ways more restrictive than federal law.
Mr. Hoffer told Law360 that the passage of such a law in Texas came as a surprise. "It's surprising that Texas, given the Legislature we have and the governor we have … and the kind of active tort reform lobby we have, that this flew under the radar and passed. But I think everybody, regardless of political leanings, can get behind the notion that the workplace should be free from any sort of discrimination or harassment."
The article goes on to lay out the most significant changes to state harassment laws, including:
- Extending the time limit for filing a sexual harassment charge
- Expanding liability to businesses that employ even one worker
- Expanding liability to individual managers
Mr. Hoffer noted that the portion of the law that expands liability to individual managers will take time to clarify because it includes a requirement for managers who knew or should have known about the harassment.
"It's going to be a fact question," Mr. Hoffer told Law360. "A number of cases in the federal realm discuss that, so there's some case law. But essentially, it really becomes a jury question, so more cases will be going to trial on that issue, giving juries the opportunity to second-guess what a supervisor should have done in that instance."
Mr. Hoffer is Board Certified in Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. With more than two decades of experience, Mr. Hoffer focuses his trial practice on complex commercial litigation, intellectual property, trade secret disputes, and employment litigation.To schedule an appointment with Mr. Hoffer, contact our firm today.