Both federal and Texas state laws forbid discrimination and harassment at work based on sex.
Unfortunately, people are still experiencing inappropriate and illegal treatment based on sex in the workplace. According to The Southeast Texas Record, a woman who works as an assistant manager has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against her restaurant employer in Texas federal court in Houston alleging sex discrimination and sexual harassment.
The Record reports that the lawsuit alleges that after the plaintiff refused the restaurant owner's ongoing sexual advances, her salary was reduced twice. She is asking for financial damages based on alleged severe emotional distress and lost wages. Specifically, she seeks "actual, compensatory and punitive damages, back pay, attorney fees, expenses, and costs."
Under federal and Texas civil rights laws, discrimination or harassment at work based on sex is illegal. These prohibitions apply to private employers that employ at least 15 people and to state and local government employers of any size.
Unlawful discrimination based on sex occurs when an employer treats an employee or job applicant less favorably because of the person's gender. Discrimination is unlawful when any "term, condition or privilege of employment" is negatively impacted by the behavior. People usually think of discriminatory action as firing or refusing to hire someone, or paying him or her less, because of his or her sex, but discrimination in other aspects of work are also illegal such as failing to promote someone, giving fewer benefits or perks or less training and so on.
Discrimination based on gender also includes treating someone unequally at work because of pregnancy or a related condition. In addition, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the federal agency that administers federal anti-discrimination laws) says on its website that it considers illegal sex discrimination to include that which is based on a person being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
Sexual harassment occurs in two types of situations. The first is when a person receives negative treatment at work because he or she rejected unwanted sexual advances. The second is when offensive sexual behavior that is either severe or frequent creates a hostile work environment. This type of harassment can be based on offensive speech, pictures, writing, objects and so on.
Sexual harassment can happen between people of opposite or the same genders, and both women and men can also be victimized. In addition, people can be harassed as bystanders even if they are not the intended recipients of the treatment.
Seek legal advice
Involving an experienced employment discrimination attorney is important if you feel that you have suffered at work because of discrimination or harassment based on gender. The law and procedure governing this area of the law is extremely complicated, involving potentially both federal and state civil rights laws, agencies and courts. A knowledgeable lawyer can educate you about your legal options and help you make choices about how to proceed in your particular circumstances.
In addition, legal counsel is important to advise you about how to respond to the situation at work, to launch an investigation on your behalf and to help you meet legal deadlines.
With offices in Houston, San Antonio, El Paso and Harlington, the employment law attorneys at Kennard Law, P.C., represent clients across Texas who have been victims of sex discrimination and harassment, as well as of other types of illegal conduct at work.
Keywords: federal, Texas, sex discrimination, sexual harassment, work, employment, civil rights, lawsuit, damages, employer, employee, gender, pregnancy, gay, lesbian, hostile work environment