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Blog>Guides>What Is Considered a Hostile Work Environment in Texas?

What Is Considered a Hostile Work Environment in Texas?

Article index


  • State laws and regulations on hostile work environments

  • The types of work behaviors Texas law considers hostile

  • Hostile work environment examples

  • Reporting hostile behaviors in Texas


Working in a hostile environment can be upsetting and stressful, undermining your ability to concentrate. A superior or a coworker can commit workplace harassment by exhibiting discriminatory behavior and compromising your right to a comfortable work environment. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) controls and defines what constitutes a hostile work environment. It's all included in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

If you live and work in Texas, it's critical that you learn what qualifies as a hostile workplace. Doing so enables you to identify illegal discrimination and what the law says about specific actions.

In this article, we talk about examples of a hostile work environment, how to prove harassment, and getting a better job through Joblist.

What Is Considered a Hostile Work Environment in Texas?

Workplace harassment is on the rise in Texas and across the country. It's important to understand specific state laws and regulations determining offensive conduct.

Let’s talk about state law covering hostile work environments. In Texas, you'll find some anti-discrimination laws that cover it. These laws include ADA, ADEA, and GINA.

Regulations address hostile behaviors, such as harassment based on disability, age, national origin, and religion (protected class). Some states, like Texas, introduced stronger protections to go along with what's already covered by the federal government. The Texas Labor Code, Chapter 21, is an example of a law protecting workers exposed to hostile work environments.

Hostile Work Environment Definition

Texas and federal laws prohibit hostile conduct in the workplace. Anyone found guilty of ridiculing others, making racial slurs, and assaulting coworkers can get in trouble with the law. Likewise, it's illegal to abuse others based on religion, nationality, sexual orientation, or gender.

Employers must take any severe or pervasive form of harassment seriously. So, a coworker who subjects others to intimidating, abusive, or hostile behavior should face disciplinary action.

Texas law allows you to report offensive conduct, whether or not you're the victim, without fear of retaliation or demotion. If the hostility interferes with your ability to work, you can report it.

Workplace Harassment Definition

When a coworker harasses you, they violate employment discrimination law, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Workplace harassment can happen in various ways, including sexual harassment. However, you can't initiate hostile work environment claims based on petty annoyances.

It's unacceptable to endure serious harassment as a condition for continued employment. So, don't put up with offensive jokes, intimidation, mockery, interference with work, or getting touched inappropriately. It doesn't matter whether the harasser is your boss or coworker.

What Behaviors Are Considered Criteria for a Hostile Work Environment?

Hostile behavior can happen at work in pervasive ways, and you might not even recognize it. In other cases, you're aware of the abuse but have no idea what to do.

Below, we talk about actions considered hostile in the work environment.

Sexual Harassment

Employment law also covers different types of sexual harassment. It's important to know that harassment isn't always of sexual nature. If a coworker makes sexist remarks, you've got the right to report the matter to the human resources department. The problems start when workplace interactions go beyond simple teasing and isolated incidents.

Regardless of gender, a person can be the harasser or the harassed. The law recognizes two basic types of legal claims for workplace sexual harassment. These cases include quid pro quo sexual harassment and hostile work environment sexual harassment. In the first case, you can report a coworker who extorts sexual favors in exchange for benefits. With hostile sexual harassment, you become a victim of sexual abuse.

Texas regulates workplace sexual harassment using the Labor Code Chapter 2. The state applies the laws a little differently from the provisions you find under Title VII. Local state laws ensure that everyone can get both civil and criminal remedies. That's why sexual harassment cases will often land in a criminal court.

Here are examples of what sexual harassment looks like under the law:

  • Physically touching a coworker without their consent

  • Annoying a coworker with unwanted sexual advances

  • Sending inappropriate SMS or email messages

  • Harassing a colleague for turning down sexual advances

  • Repeatedly sharing unwelcome, sexually explicit materials

Discriminatory Harassment

People may verbally or physically abuse you in a hostile work environment because of your gender, religion, race, disability, national origin, or age. Actions such as these usually aim to undermine your work performance and, in some cases, employment prospects.

Some discriminatory behaviors include:

  • Name-calling

  • Racial slurs

  • Offensive jokes about age, disability, or other factors

  • Imitating an accent in a derogatory way

  • Displaying cartoons or posters with racially offensive material

  • Disparaging remarks about age or sexual orientation

The Texas labor code protects workers from discriminatory harassment. State authorities also enforce these regulations based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Workplace Bullying

Bullying happens at work, too, even though it's usually associated with schools. While some cases are severe, others are more subtle. Becoming a victim of this behavior can erode your confidence, make you less productive, and put your career at risk. The perpetrator can be your boss, coworker, customer, or just a visitor.

Let's see what it looks like:

  • Threats of physical harm

  • Persistent derogatory criticism, alone or in front of coworkers

  • Instructions to do something humiliating or inappropriate

  • Constant threats of reprimand or being fired

The Texas Human Resources Code deals with bullying in the work environment.

Behaviors Must Be Pervasive and Severe

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and state laws, hostile action in the workplace must be severe and pervasive for you to initiate a complaint or legal action. So, slight annoyances and isolated incidents don't qualify as hostile work environment behaviors.

However, if the harasser persistently insults or physically attacks you, inform the human resources (HR) department. The law is on your side if the offensive conduct negatively affects your work performance (disruptive) or changes the conditions under which you work. Remote harassment can also qualify as pervasive hostility.

If a reasonable person finds the behavior unacceptably severe or pervasive, the employer should look into your case.

Hostile Work Environment Examples

There are many signs that you're working in a hostile environment. You're more likely to feel humiliated, scared, unwelcome, and intimidated in such a case. Your superiors, coworkers, or customers might do something that violates Texas state laws, the Disabilities Act, EEOC regulations, the Employment Act, and several other federal laws.

Below, you'll find some hostile actions you can expect:

  • Frequent sexual advances, irrespective of objections

  • Repeated obstructions of your movements in the office

  • Disparaging remarks about your appearance, accent, or national origin

  • Persistent racial slurs

  • Forwarding offensive content via electronic medium

  • Unwanted touching or groping

  • Displaying offensive materials on calendars and posters

How to Prove a Hostile Work Environment in Texas

Since you've got a general idea about hostile work environments and what the law says, the next step is to learn how to prove wrongful conduct. We’ve got some tips that can help.

Report the Activity to Your Employer as Soon as Possible

Once you find yourself in a hostile work environment, you must report it as soon as possible to HR or other relevant departments. Putting off reporting the problem can have serious consequences on your productivity or career. Plus, the harasser may have other pending cases. Having evidence is a great way to help prove your case.

Take Detailed Notes of What Happened

To make your accusation stand, you've got to prove it. It's vital to gather evidence, such as audio and video recordings, screenshots, text messages, notes, and social media comments. It'd be best for notes to indicate place, time, and date.

You can also list the names of witnesses. Gathering evidence is crucial if the relevant department doesn't take the matter seriously. Your ability to prove the case will prove vital at the point in time when seeking legal advice from a law firm becomes necessary.

Gather Witnesses If the Behavior Continues

Talking to colleagues before reporting the harassment is one way to strengthen your case. It's common for harassers or bullies to victimize multiple people. You may also find other victims or coworkers who witnessed the hostile behavior.

Seek Legal Help

If your employer is unhelpful after reporting a hostile work environment case, you're free to take the matter to the next level. Talk to an employment lawyer who'll assess the merits of your case and provide expert legal advice. You'll have to tell the attorney what steps you've taken before seeking legal assistance. The lawyer will evaluate the severity or pervasiveness of the hostility, including its effects on your ability to work.

Don’t Stay in a Hostile Work Environment, Let Joblist Help

It's no fun working in a hostile environment, so you need to look for something better if you're tired of it. Through Joblist, you can find the right job with a friendly work environment. By taking the quiz on the job-hunting platform, you can view listings curated to your preferences.

For a fresh start in a new workplace, check out what Joblist has in store for you.

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