Employers in Texas are seeing some relief in 2022 from two years of pandemic-related shutdowns and other challenges from the nationwide spread of COVID-19. The easing of mandates and a return to normalcy included a few significant 2022 employment law changes in the state. Discover a few that attracted the attention of the employment law team at Cokinos | Young.
In 2022, the Texas legislature took steps to provide employers with some degree of certainty in the cost of unemployment insurance. Under Senate Bill 8, signed by Gov. Greg Abbott, the Texas Workforce Commission kept unemployment tax rates level for the year, with no increase over 2021. Without funding support from S.B. 8, many employers expected to see significant increases this year because of COVID-19 closures in 2021. Employer taxes go into the Texas Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund as a source of temporary income for workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own.
With bipartisan support, Congress passed the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act, H.R. 4445, in March. This new legislation will impact employers and their use of blanket pre-dispute arbitration agreements or class action litigation waivers concerning sexual assault and sexual harassment claims.
Under the terms of the act, employees can now renounce these agreements and take their cases to court instead. Employers and employees can agree to arbitration after a filed complaint. In a press release, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also reminds employers that despite the new legislation, they still may face inquiries from the EEOC, which remains unbound by arbitration agreements.
In 2022, Texas employers are in the first full year of compliance with stricter anti-sexual harassment laws. A series of bills passed in the 2021 term provided a new statutory definition of sexual harassment. They gave employees additional time to file a claim aligned with federal law.
The bill also puts new requirements on employers regarding how they must respond to complaints and allows individuals to be responsible if they do not respond appropriately. Small businesses now also face possible liability under the bill. The relevant legislation from the 2021 term is S.B. 45, S.B. 282, and H.B. 21. Gov. Abbott signed the bills in December 2021, but they had already taken effect on Sept. 1, 2021.
The attorneys at Cokinos | Young provide employers with timely counsel in employment law to allow them to institute compliant policies and practices, limit future liability, and encourage success for all employees in the workplace. Our team will help you stay current when drafting employment manuals and policies, reviewing employment decisions, and supporting management in providing a healthy workplace.
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Our attorneys support employers in four cities in Texas, California, and New Jersey. Contact the attorneys of Cokinos | Young online or call today to schedule a consultation.