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State departments under fire for harassment handlings

With how closely the Texas state agencies work with the law, you would think that they would be especially careful with how they treat their employees given the impact their work has on the state. Unfortunately, recent reports might hint that even the organizations who shape our construction and law enforcement can be potentially guilty of harassment.

In the last year, local channel KXAN has launched multiple investigations into the state’s highly-esteemed departments and found conflict within the organization regarding incidents of harassment and discrimination. They recently published two articles highlighting their findings to show the public how the workers feel their employers treat them and the department’s response to the allegation and how they will proceed.

Combating unconscious bias

Back in May, KXAN found more than 200 allegations of workplace harassment and discrimination for the last five years at the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). The majority of these complaints came from women, who make up just over 20 percent of the department’s total workforce. The number of allegations per year significantly increased. There were 21 during 2013, but over 50 in 2015 and most of the following years.

After reports of their allegations became public, TxDOT began campaigning for a safer work environment. They put posters on their walls encouraging workers not to be afraid to speak up, and they recently published a newsletter promoting work diversity and educating employees about preventing their unconscious bias from affecting their work ethics. Whether or not most of the allegations are true, the department appears to be making efforts towards decreasing the amount of harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Only time will tell whether these efforts pay off.

Unfavorable numbers

KXAN also analyzed the amount of discrimination present at the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). Despite having hundreds of allegations against them in the last five years, only 10 percent were substantiated. Instead of baseless claims, many workers feel the statistics are the way they are because there is a high chance of retaliation from the employers.

The leaders at the DPS believe that they have a clear system for employees to report harassment, but anonymous current and former workers believe that the current system is flawed. Some believe that they need to include better training programs to make the workers feel like they can comfortably talk to their employers without making themselves a target of retaliation.

This demonstrates that employee discrimination and whistleblowing occur no matter how large a company is or how closely an organization works with the government. Texas forbids harassment and discrimination from occurring in the workplace. An employment law attorney can help you file a claim against your negligent employer if you face wrongful retaliation for reporting a major issue at your job.

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