Sexual harassment protections bill moves to governor’s desk

By Sahar Chmais
Employees at firms with 14 or fewer employees currently cannot file a sexual harassment claim with the Texas Workforce Commission. This may soon change if Senate Bill 45 gets signed by Governor Greg Abbott.
Under the current law, legal protections against sexual harassment in the workplace only apply to employers with 15 or more employees.
“All workers, no matter the size of the business they work for, deserve legal protections against sexual harassment in the workplace,” said State Rep. Erin Zwiener (D-Driftwood). “For too long, workers at small businesses had no protections in Texas. That is changing now, and soon they will have access to the same due process that other Texas workers enjoy.”
SB 45 was introduced by State Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) and was sponsored by Zwiener. On May 14, SB 45 passed the House with a 104-25 vote.
This is not the first time a bill protecting small firms employees gets introduced. In 2019, a similar legislation was drawn, but missed a key deadline at the end of the session. And in 2017, Zaffirini also filed the legislation.
SB 45 has a House Bill compassion, HB 48, which intends to clarify the definition of sexual harassment to create a consistent standard for all workplaces in Texas, providing all employees in the state access to due process, according to Zwiener.

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Sahar Chmais holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. She has been covering cities in Hays County for one year, touching on residents' struggles and successes, city issues, COVID-19 and more. Prior to reporting on the local spectrum, Sahar reported for a national news organization, covering gun violence. Sahar enjoys working as a local reporter because she gets to work with real people and their stories.

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