Many new Texas state laws were passed in 2021. A number of those laws may affect employers, including both their rights concerning business practices and responsibilities to employees. If you have any questions about compliance with Texas business or employment law, one of our experienced Frisco attorneys will be glad to help. In the meantime, take a look at this review of five new workplace laws passed by Texas lawmakers in 2021.
Law Providing Enhanced Protections for Active-Duty Service Members
Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed SB 484 into law, and the law took effect on September 1, 2021. The law provides enhanced protections to service members who are called to active duty. Prior to the passage of SB 484, anyone who was called to active duty, or called to service member training, was protected against termination from their job and had certain rights to be reinstated after the conclusion of active duty. However, under previous law, the only way for an active-duty service member to seek a remedy if his or her rights were violated was to file a complaint through the Texas Workforce Commission. Under SB 484, the aggrieved employee can now file a lawsuit against the employer to seek damages and other costs.
COVID-19 Liability Protection via the Pandemic Liability Protection Act
The Pandemic Liability Protection Act (PLPA) took effect on June 14, 2021, and it provides protections for employers moving forward (presumably so long as a state of emergency remains), as well as retroactive protections dating back to March 13, 2020. Under the law, employers cannot be sued if a person contracts COVID-19 through the business unless one of the exceptions applies:
- The business knowingly failed to warn about risk of exposure or to remedy a condition likely to result in exposure, and a person contracted the virus as a result; or
- A company knowingly failed to comply with COVID-19 government guidance or protocols, and that failure caused a person to contract the virus.
Expanded Protections Against Workplace Sexual Harassment
SB 45 changed the definition of an “employer” for purposes of workplace sexual harassment claims, which means more parties in a workplace could be liable for an employee’s sexual harassment. In addition, any employer that has one or more employees—as opposed to the previous “15 or more employees” requirement—can be liable for sexual harassment in the workplace.
Extended Statute of Limitations for Sexual Harassment Claims
With the passage of HB 21, the statute of limitations for an employee to file a sexual harassment claim was extended from 180 days to 300 days as of September 1, 2021.
Changes to Texas Firearm Carry Laws
Under HB 1927, or the Texas Firearm Carry Act, anyone 21 or older can carry a handgun in public, including a concealed weapon, without a permit. Businesses can still prohibit people from bringing guns on their premises but cannot prohibit a person, including an employee, from keeping a firearm in a locked vehicle in the workplace parking lot.
Contact a Texas Employment Lawyer
If you have questions or concerns about your rights and responsibilities under these or any Texas or federal employment laws, the employment lawyers at Simon Paschal can assist you. Contact Simon Paschal PLLC to learn more.