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An employer who may have reasonable cause to fire an employee should be especially careful taking any action when the employee has alleged sexual harassment or has already filed a sexual harassment complaint. While the majority of employers are well within their rights to fire an employee who is employed on an at-will basis, a firing that appears to be connected to a sexual harassment complaint can put employers at higher risk.
Laws on the state and federal level exist that protect employees who raise concerns about sexual harassment in the workplace. Firing an employee who has raised allegations of sexual harassment in the office could violate discrimination statutes. An employer is prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against an employee because that employee has made a claim regarding sexual harassment.
Even in instances where the employee needs to be terminated from his or her position, the employer should seek legal counsel regarding the appropriate steps to take if an incident of sexual harassment has been mentioned in a claim. Employers would do well to proceed cautiously in these situations so as to avoid further disputes or legal entanglements with that employee. An employer should have established a protocol for handling sexual harassment claims and document what they have done in response to these claims. This documentation can be essential in the event that the employee alleges wrongful termination in Texas as a result of filing a sexual harassment complaint.