Texas state law expressly forbids harassment or discrimination in the workplace. Discrimination differs slightly from harassment, but harassment constitutes one of the many forms of discrimination. Though sexual harassment receives the lion’s share of attention in harassment literature, Texas bans all forms of harassment from the workplace, including forms of pestering and threatening. As per the Texas penal code, harassment constitutes a crime and is punished accordingly.
Definition of Harassment
The state of Texas defers to a fact sheet created by the University of Texas Houston for its definition of harassment. As per this sheet, harassment constitutes any act or treatment leading to physical or emotional adversity on the basis of gender, color, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, disability or any similar status. Texas forbids discrimination or harassment of any kind in the workplace and in educational settings.
Types of Harassment
Texas state code goes to great lengths defining types of harassment. As per this code, harassment includes generating and disseminating threats or false character reports in person, via writing or over the phone; making regular phone calls intended to annoy or harass; calling an individual and hanging up repeatedly; and sending regular electronic communications intended to harass, annoy, abuse, offend, embarrass or “torment” another. The definition of harassment covers conduct directed at the family or household of an individual suffering workplace harassment and places special emphasis on the use of the inappropriateness of obscene material.
Consequences of Harassment
Harassment in Texas general constitutes a Class B misdemeanor. Those previously convicted of harassment face a Class A misdemeanor. The punishment for those found guilty of a Class B misdemeanor in Texas is a fine of $2,000 or less, a prison term as long as 180 days or a combination of the two not exceeding the limits of either. Punishment for a Class A misdemeanor is a fine of $4,000 or less, a prison sentence of one year or less or a combination of such a prison term and a fine.
The state of Texas encourages individuals suffering from harassment in the workplace to attempt to solve the problem by discussing it with the perpetrator, human resources or management personnel. If these efforts are ineffective, individuals should consult legal authorities and file an official claim. Any form of communication that may be considered harassment, from handwritten notes to instant messages, texts and social media postings constitute admissible evidence for harassment cases in Texas.