Remedies against employer sex discrimination in Texas

Texas state remedies for sex discrimination at work mirror federal remedies.

Unfortunately, despite decades of federal and state illegality, discrimination based on sex still happens in the workplace. Federal and state laws provide legal remedies for victims of gender discrimination, both male and female.

When a Texan feels unfairly treated at work because of gender, he or she should immediately seek legal advice from an experienced employment law attorney. Unlawful and offensive treatment should not be allowed to continue and legal action should be carefully considered.

Sex discrimination in employment is illegal under federal civil rights laws, which of course apply to Texans. In addition to unequal treatment at work based on a person's gender, sex discrimination includes pregnancy discrimination and sexual harassment.

Typically, each state also has its own anti-discrimination laws, sometimes providing more expansive employee rights than those granted at the federal level. In Texas, rather than establish new state standards, the state anti-discrimination laws are designed to enforce the federal standards. Accordingly, Texas state courts use federal court anti-discrimination cases for guidance.

Texas anti-discrimination laws apply to private employers in the state with at least 15 employees and to state and local governmental employers of any size. (Discrimination by federal employers is covered by special federal laws.)

Broadly, sex discrimination occurs when an employer treats an employee (or job applicant) differently than his or her colleagues (or other applicants) because of that person's gender. The unequal treatment is illegal when it creates inequitable terms and conditions of employment like pay, benefits, hiring, firing, promotion and more.

Pregnancy discrimination is an aspect of sex discrimination applying to women who are pregnant, to childbirth or to related medical conditions. In addition to prohibiting unequal treatment in employment for these reasons, when a pregnant woman becomes temporarily disabled because of her medical condition, certain protections against disability discrimination and requirements for reasonable accommodation may also kick in.

Sexual harassment is a type of gender discrimination that can happen in a couple of different scenarios. First, when an employee receives unfavorable treatment in the terms and conditions of employment because he or she refused unwanted sexual advances at work (or the reverse situation when to get or maintain favorable work conditions the employee must submit to unwelcome sexual requests), it is called quid pro quo or tangible job benefit sexual harassment.

The other type of sexual harassment occurs when a hostile environment at work is created by the behavior or conduct of others in the workplace. For example, an employee could feel uncomfortable or oppressed because of repeated or severe comments or jokes of a sexual nature, by the display of inappropriate pictures and so on. An environment hostile to a particular worker can be created by people of the same or opposite gender.

Complaints of sex discrimination at work may be filed with either the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or EEOC or its state counterpart agency the Texas Workplace Commission's Civil Rights Division, and sometimes with a local agency. Claims may also be brought in state or federal court. However, a complex interplay between federal and state law controls in what order and where such claims must or may be filed, and deadlines for doing so are tight.

Therefore, it is imperative that a Texan who has experienced sex discrimination at work speak with an experienced, knowledgeable employment law attorney as early as possible for accurate and educated legal counsel to preserve all legal rights and options for monetary recovery and remedying the situation.

One such employment lawyer is Kell A. Simon of Austin, who also meets clients in Dallas and Houston.

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