Currently there are several bills gaining traction in the Texas legislature that would help address abuse in our hospitality industry. One of those bills is HB 48. Representative Erin Zwiener is championing this bill and has provided the following information on HB48’s purpose:
● This bill seeks to expand sexual harassment protections to not just employees of large companies, but also small businesses in Texas. Under current law, employees at workplaces with fewer than 15 employees have effectively no access to due process when experiencing workplace sexual harassment. They cannot file a case in district court. This bill would put all Texas employees under the same rules.
● 45.6% of all Texas employees belong to small businesses. It would be incorrect to assume that smaller workforces mean a decreased chance, or instance, of sexual harassment, as they typically see employees engaging with each other more frequently and in closer proximity.
● Many small businesses do not have a formal HR department, causing many incidents to go unreported which creates a toxic workplace for both employees and firms.
● By creating a formal structure for sexual harassment complaints, both workers and small employers will benefit. Due process reduces the vulnerability of an employer to false claims on social media or in the press. Employees who work in environments where they feel safe are more likely to stay with a business.
● The NFIB has taken a neutral stance on this bill, and will not do anything to stop it from moving forward.
If you are a Texas resident and would like to vocalize your support for HB48, you can take action with this link and copy/paste this drafted statement in the comments section:
The Honorable Angie Chen Button
International Relations and Economic Development Committee
Re: Expressing Support for HB 48 (Representative Erin Zwiener)
Dear Chair Button and the Members of the International Relations and Economic Development Committee,
We, the _____________________, are writing to express our support of House Bill 48 by Zwiener which would expand sexual harassment protections to businesses made up of at least one employee.
As owners and employees of small businesses in Texas, we value the safety of workers. We believe in creating a productive and safe environment where employees look forward to coming to work and can feel confident that their rights are protected. Right now, under current Texas law, employees do not have concrete protections against sexual harassment if they belong to a business of less than 15 employees. Representative Erin Zwiener has filed House Bill 48 in order to remedy this problem, and protect the rights of all employees, regardless of business size. This bill would provide that confidence, by including all employees in protections against sexual harassment, not just those of larger businesses.
Sexual Harassment is a serious problem, and one that is not often talked about in regards to small business employees. This bill would ensure that we not only have an avenue to pursue legal action against workplace harassment, but it also solidifies sexual harassment as an unlawful employment practice. This ensures that Texans everywhere are protected against sexual harassment in the workplace.
We support the passage of HB 48 and ask for your support as well.
Bills that receive support from the community are more likely to be passed and eventually turned into law. Additionally, if you would like to speak at the committee hearing at the capitol on Wednesday, March 31st, there are spaces available for your personal testimony. If you would like to speak on behalf of how not having these sexual harassment protections has affected you, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.