As I reflect on writing my Capstone paper, I am reminded of the great lengths the pioneers of the women's movement went to make their voices heard. Tirelessly these women fought to be heard by our government and corporations alike that sexual harassment must be eradicated from the U.S. workplace. They were pushing for stricter laws and protection for those that were sexually harassed. Thanks to the #MeToo movement. The harassers became front and center in the media. Their behavior was in the spotlight for the world to see. The victims and their supporters would no longer sit quietly and allow these predators to continue harassing other victims.
In September 2021, Texas passed Senate Bill 45 (SB 45). The bill broadens the definition of "employer" making most employers in Texas liable for sexual harassment. The bill also imposes personal liability upon supervisors, co-workers, or other individuals associated with the employer. This was quite honestly revolutionary for the typically conservative state of Texas. Oddly the bill has not generated a great deal of buzz and many are not even aware the bill exists. We should be celebrating this bill but it feels as if it was created in a vacuum with little public awareness.
This bill is a wake-up call for Texas workplaces to ensure their workforce is educated and trained on the definition of sexual harassment, examples, reporting, and how they can prevent sexual harassment. Those in leadership positions in Texas workplaces should ensure they understand (SB 45) and the consequences of failing to protect their workforce from sexual harassment. Failure to do some may come with a heavy price of personal liability.
It will be interesting to see the bill evolve as cases come forward and society's tolerance for bad behavior from bad actors pushes our government and workplaces to act quickly and swiftly.