The Texas Labor Code makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee because of sex. It also classifies sexual harassment as discrimination based on sex.
Texas employees who claim they have been sexually harassed must file a complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division (TWC) within 180 days of the harassment.
But that time limit doesn’t mean that only those acts of harassment that happened in the immediately preceding 180 days will be considered. In fact, any related acts that may have occurred earlier may be pulled into the litigation as part of a continual violation claim.
Recent case: Lisa Rodriguez took a job as a patrol officer in the public safety department at Texas Southern University. She began a training program on April 3, 2006, that lasted six weeks. Right away, she claims, her supervisor began propositioning her, sending text messages requesting sex and asking her out.
Rodriguez claims she told the supervisor to stop, but the harassment continued. She complained to, but she claims her higher-ups never did anything.
It wasn’t until Sept. 14, 2007, that she filed a complaint with the TWC, alleging a sexually hostile work environment. She said the last specific incident happened on July 17, 2007, 129 days before she filed the complaint. She said the earliest harassing incident had occurred on April 10, 2006, just a week after she started work.
The university argued that alleged conduct that occurred more than 180 days before she filed the complaint shouldn’t count.
But the Court of Appeals of Texas disagreed. It said that all the acts going back to 2006 counted because they could be viewed as part of a continual violation. (Texas Southern University v. Rodriguez, No. 14-10-01079, Court of Appeals of Texas, 14th District, 2011)