San Marcos Local Pushes For Loophole In Sexual Harassment In The Workplace To Be Resolved

 

“I was shocked because it seemed so farfetched to me that in 2015 small businesses (which are the foundation of not only the state but the country) would be left out of such a fundamental protection,” Wyatt said.

By, Terra Rivers, Managing Editor

Gender discrimination in the workplace is an issue still experienced by people today.

While equal pay for women may be the most recognizable issue, it isn’t the only type of gender discrimination experienced by women. Men experience certain forms of gender discrimination as well.

A survey done by Cosmopolitan in 2015 showed 1-in-3 women experience sexual harassment in the workplace. Reported cases of sexual harassment can be anywhere from unwelcome sexual advancements to requests for sexual favors to offensive remarks based on gender.

Currently, the federal labor law, which protects employees from sexual harassment by employers and fellow employees, doesn’t protect the employees of small businesses with less than 15 employees in the state of Texas.

Karen Wyatt, a San Marcos resident, helped bring the loophole some small business owners have been using for years to the attention of local lawmakers.

After moving back to San Marcos, Wyatt took a job at a local, small home loan processing business. A former employee, the woman whose position she had filled, contacted her and warned her of what she would experience in the days to come.

Wyatt said she had ignored the warning; she was convinced the “sexual harassment, racial degradation, homophobic rants and psychological abuse” would be something she wouldn’t tolerate.

However, her initial beliefs came to be very wrong. Wyatt remained with the company for from 2006 to 2015 enduring harassment and verbal abuse from her employer. As the years progressed, she said the abuse had a huge impact on her confidence and personality.

She stopped wearing makeup. She stopped dressing for the job she wanted versus the job she had.

Finally, a friend, after seeing the evidence and transcripts of recorded conversations, convinced her to leave her position or “he and her husband would clean out her office for her.”

When Wyatt tried to file a sexual harassment lawsuit, attorneys revealed the loophole protecting her former employer from such lawsuits. He was even able to block her unemployment claim since she had left of “her own volition.”

Federal Labor Code does not allow the employee of any organization with fewer than 15 employees to file sexual harassment claims against an employer.

However, the law does allow states to lower the number of employees required for a claim to be filed. At present, Texas’s labor code upholds the federal requirements.

Wyatt said she approached Rep. Jason Isaac about the loophole; Sen. Zaffirini, on the other hand, showed interest and submitted an amendment to the State Affairs Committee for a hearing.

“They were the saviors I needed,” Wyatt said. “They believe in the fact that ALL employees deserve to be protected from sexual harassment no matter the company size.”

Currently, a hearing has not been set for SB 1140. However, people interested in showing their support can call the State Affairs Committee Chair, Senator Joan Huffman, at 512-463-0117 and ask for a hearing to be set.

“Small businesses are the backbone and foundation of not only Texas but of this country,” Wyatt said, “And to think that they are left out of such a fundamental protection is unbelievable.”

Once the bill passes in Texas, Wyatt said the bill will be going to Washington D.C. in the hopes of getting it passed on a federal level.

“I want something good to come from this,” Wyatt said. “I want people like him to be held accountable for their actions.  I think all men and women should be protected from sexual harassment, no matter the size of the company.”

Her whole story can be read at www.sashnow.org.


 

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3 Comments

  1. Melissa Millecam

    Thank you to Karen Wyatt for raising this issue–she did a great talk Monday at the Hays County Women’s Political Caucus/ League of Women Voters meeting! Let’s have a hearing on SB 1140!

    Reply
  2. Betty Krackow

    Ditto Ms. Wyatt, Let’s pass some legislation and eliminate sexism. It takes a woman to understand just how bad it can get, and for another example to your well framed story, a similar injustice happened recently about 7 p.m. Feb. 23 during a little league practice held at the Orange Park Athletic Association baseball fields in n Jacksonville, Florida.

    A deputy answering that call spoke with the victim who said she was watching the practice when she was criticized for wearing “short shorts” to the practice by a woman who teaches at Clay High School in Green Cove Springs. According to the police report witnesses stated the incident began involving juvenile male players assembled around the victim.
    Withness report that the situation escalated upon the victim allegedly telling the other woman how her choice of wearing short-shorts to little league practice was merely her own expression of “dressing for the job that she really wants”, whereupon the other woman allegedly punched the victim in the face and then tackled her.

    There were visible bruises on the victim’s forearms, a cut on her right wrist and abrasions on her shoulder, elbow and chest, the deputy wrote in his report. However, it should be understood that any woman who would assault another woman, was obviously the prior victim of toxic maleness at some point in her life. So, can we get a column on that, maybe?

    Reply
  3. Elizabeth S.

    “A survey done by Cosmopolitan in 2015 showed 1-in-3 women experience sexual harassment in the workplace.”

    What is the author of this story smoking??

    The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) is now declaring victory as Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, announces it is pulling Cosmopolitan Magazine from checkout stands in about 5,000 of its stores.

    Victoria Hearst, granddaughter of William Randolph Hearst, the founder of the Hearst Corporation, which publishes Cosmopolitan Magazine, joined NCOSE to launch Cosmo Harms Minors campaign to push for covers over the magazine at checkout stands.

    “Cosmo is anti-God, anti-Christian, anti-marriage, and promotes a deviant lifestyle centered on sex,” Hearst said. “It promotes promiscuity – with its risks of getting STDs, being raped or murdered, and its promise of emotional and psychological damage, including suicide.”

    Meanwhile, in San Marcos, we have “journalists” urging women to sympathize with females who show up for work in clothes promoting their sexuality on one hand, while on the other hand, lashing out at any man who “makes it an issue.” And she calls this “dressing for the job she really wants” ?

    Please stop writing articles describing the common pettiness of sexually charged clothing which invariably results in allegations of sexual harrassment. Apparently the author does not understand how, if not for their clothing, these same weak individuals would have no claim to attention otherwise.

    Reply

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