Total Planetary Alignment. Halley’s Comet. A Full Solar Eclipse. Texas Enacting Heightened Employee Protections Beyond Federal Law.

What are “things that rarely happen in your lifetime?”

In Texas, the general rule is that employee-facing legal protections overlap with—and extend no further than—its federal counterparts. But newly-enacted state legislation concerning workplace sexual harassment has bucked that trend.

Continue Reading New Texas Law Expands Employee Rights and Employer Liability for Sexual Harassment Claims

Earlier this year, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously rejected the notion that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects individuals from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation or transgender status. More than a standard-issue opinion, however, the Fifth Circuit’s holding was a laser-focused rebuke of a widely-publicized district court opinion which held Title VII’s prohibition on sex-discrimination applies to transgender individuals.
Continue Reading Title VII Reversal: Fifth Circuit Holds No Transgender Protections Under Civil Rights Statute

In a landmark ruling, a federal court judge in Texas issued an opinion holding—unequivocally—that Title VII protects transgender individuals from discrimination based on their gender identity. Wittmer v. Phillips 66 Company, No., 4:2017-cv-02188 (S.D.Tex, April 4, 2018). The ruling is the first of its kind in Texas and will likely have a major impact in Texas workplaces. Indeed, recent studies have shown that approximately 430,000 workers in Texas identify either lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). Of that number, 79% of transgender workers in Texas have reported—either formally or informally—some kind of discrimination in the workplace, including harassment, discriminatory hiring practices, and promotion denials. Texas employers should take note of the recently-issued decision.
Continue Reading Texas Federal Court Rules That Anti-Discrimination Statute Protects Transgender Individuals