In a December 21, 2018 press release, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) announced that a federal jury in Florida returned a verdict on December 19, 2018 awarding $850,000 in compensatory damages and punitive damages to a female farm worker who was raped by her supervisor and reported to her employer and police that same day.
According to the EEOC press release, the employer, which grows strawberries, failed to properly investigate the complaint, and instead sent the victim home from work without pay the next work day and then took no action against the harasser, leaving him to supervise women in the fields, despite evidence that this was not the first complaint of sexual harassment. Instead, the EEOC reports, the employer continued retaliating against the female victim and even forced her to take a leave of absence.
Texas Labor Code Chapter 21 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protect individuals against employment discrimination and harassment based upon sex. At www.twc.state.tx.us/crd/sex-discrimination.html, the Texas Workforce Commission explains that sex discrimination occurs when one is treated differently than other employees because of one’s sex, including pregnancy, and stereotypes and assumptions based on sex. Examples of unlawful actions are denial of hiring, termination, promotion or any other term, condition, or privilege of employment.
As stated by the Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division (TWC), Texas Labor Code Chapter 21 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protect employees from employment discrimination based upon sexual harassment also.
According to the TWC, sexual harassment can be unwelcome advances, requests for sexual favors, or physical touching of a sexual nature. A person subjected to these types of sexually offensive behaviors may experience work performance interference. Further, this type of work-related misconduct can also create an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. People forced to endure this harassment may also experience adverse employment actions and that may constitute retaliation and/or sexual harassment.
Additional general information provided to the public by the TWC shows that harassers can be a supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker or a non-employee. The harasser’s behavior must be unwelcome and anyone can be affected by the offensive conduct.
With respect to the EEOC, further information about the federal agency and the laws it enforces is available on the EEOC website at: www.eeoc.gov
Whether restaurant sexual harassment, including abusive sexist comments, conduct of a sexual nature and jokes, occurs in Houston businesses or elsewhere in Texas, restaurant employees subjected to a sexual harassment hostile work environment in Texas may contact the TWC or EEOC to make charges of discrimination and trigger state or federal investigations of sexual harassment complaints. In addition, restaurant workers subjected to unlawful workplace sexual harassment may consult an attorney to discuss whether the facts and circumstances of the potential employment discrimination case support filing of a sexual harassment lawsuit.