It is something that occurs once every two years. No, this is not a post about elections or the World Test Championship (it is not what it sounds like and is actually pretty awesome). I’m talking about the Texas Legislative Session beginning and the release of their proposed bills. Texas is unique in that the legislature only meets once every two years unless the governor calls a special session.

In this post, we will explore some of the bills that have been introduced so far this legislative session that relate to labor and employment. I plan to update this post once the deadline to introduce new bills ends and probably will do a follow-up post if anything noteworthy passes. I am not going to include any bills related to health insurance or Medicaid, marijuana, or those that are specific to state employees, even though these affect labor and employment law. You can view all of the bills that have been proposed so far here.

The post will focus on those bills that concern the traditional areas that concern labor and employment such as sexual harassment, wage and hour laws, the minimum wage, and discrimination. Due to the number of bills, I am only including a brief summary in addition to that already provided by the legislature with what I consider the highlights of the respective bill.

Sexual Harassment

The bill essentially allows a person to file a complaint for sexual harassment with the Texas Workforce Commission within 300 days of the alleged sexual harassment rather than within 180 days. This will allow parties to file more claims.

The above house and senate bills essentially define what constitutes sexual harassment within Chapter 21 of the labor code and add liability for a party if they knew or should have known that sexual harassment was occurring and failed to take immediate and appropriate action when they had that knowledge. It tracks the language currently in Section 21.1065, which deals with sexual harassment for unpaid interns, however, the new language applies to all employees.

Hair Style Discrimination

At the time of this article, six states have enacted similar laws regarding hairstyle discrimination and 22 states have considered it. These laws ban discrimination based on hairstyles that are typically associated with a certain race (generally these laws list braids, locks, and twists as forms of hairstyles that should be protected). It is possible that bills that have already passed in other states could be expanded or clarified to include other hairstyles that may be traditionally associated with races or ethnic groups.

Sick Leave

The above bill would require employers to provide sick leave for various uses. Employees would be able to earn one hour of paid sick leave for each 30 hours worked.


The above bills are not really employment law bills, but they concern the enforcement of immigration laws within the state. There has been a lot of controversy and debate around cities, counties, and states cooperating with immigration officials. These bills weigh in on this debate around immigration.

Occupational Licensing

These bills deal with the occupational licensing requirements for educators and make it easier for military veterans and spouses to establish residency to obtain a license. The military itself has sought to help military veterans and spouses, as it can be difficult to get an occupational license quickly. You can read the Department of the Treasury and Department of Defense report on the issue here. The issue affects a lot of military spouses that follow their partner throughout their military career, which oftentimes requires frequent relocation..

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination

These bills would make discriminating against someone on the basis of their gender identity or sexual orientation unlawful and establishes a penalty and a cause of action against employers that do so. As a reminder, Title VII now protects individuals from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity provided that Title VII applies to the workplace.

Reproductive Discrimination 

This bill prevents the employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of marital status during pregnancy, the use of IVF or other assisted reproduction, the use of contraception or a specific form of contraception, or the “obtainment or use of any other health care drug, device, or service relating to reproductive health.”

Workplace Violence

The above bill is meant to help curtail workplace violence at health care facilities by requiring these facilities to create a workplace violence prevention committee or authorize an existing facility committee to develop and implement a workplace violence prevention plan.


This bill bans companies from asking about wage history to prospective hires and makes it illegal to pay an employee less than an employee of the opposite sex for the same or substantially similar work unless it is based on a seniority system, merit system (meaning a system that measures earnings by production) or a bona fide factor other than sex.

The bill provides certain protections to volunteer emergency responders that are absent from or late to work because they were responding to an emergency in their capacity as a volunteer emergency responder.

HB 194 and 197 would require bias training by doctors and medical students to renew or obtain their medical licenses.


This bill would require government contractors to provide at least a 10-minute break within every four-hour period of work among other requirements.

Workers Comp

The above bills are self-explanatory and should be read in full by anyone to whom they may apply.

Family Leave

The above bill requires employers to provide at least 30 days of leave to employees that have worked for at least one year for a variety of potential uses. These may include the birth of their child, their own illness, and other permitted reasons that are similar under the FMLA.

This bill would allow employees to earn up to one hour of paid leave for each 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours per calendar year.

Predictive Scheduling Law

This is one of the predictive scheduling laws that are springing up across the country.  It requires a food and general retail establishment to notify hourly employees of their scheduled shifts at least two weeks before the shifts begin.

Wage and Hour Violations

The bill basically grants employees one year, rather than 180 days, to file a wage claim. Claims would need to be filed by the first anniversary of when the wages claimed were due.

This bill states that employers would be put on a publicly available database for violations of certain wage claims.

The bill basically grants employees one year, rather than 180 days, to file a wage claim. Claims would need to be filed by the first anniversary of when the wages claimed were due.

This bill essentially prohibits employers from using an employee’s wage history to determine whether to hire an applicant, the wages to pay an employee, whether to employ the person, and whether to promote the employee.

Minimum Wage

All of these laws relate to increasing the minimum wage to varying degrees. They are probably not that likely to pass.

Rights for Paroles and Releases (Former Inmates)

Both of these bills are meant to help parolees and released individuals get jobs. These probably stand a good chance of passing. The plight of inmates and parolees who have difficulty getting jobs after they are released got a lot of publicity this year after the inmate firefighters in California served so well in fighting the fires there. Context: A bill passed this year that allowed these prisoners to get firefighting jobs after release.


This bill requires the government to contribute a minimum of seven percent to a maximum of ten percent rather than a minimum six percent to the retirement system for teachers.

The bill states that the government will make a one-time cost of living adjustment payment to someone receiving a monthly death or retirement benefit within the Teacher Retirement System.

This bill prevents school districts from passing on the costs of certain payments to retirees through a fee or other method.

And Lastly, The Most “Texas” Bill this Legislative Session

In what is undoubtedly making me question everything that I know as a Texas transplant, Texas has yet to make the Bowie knife the official state knife of Texas.

A similar bipartisan resolution was vetoed in the last legislative session due to some factual errors in the language within resolution. Let’s hope that those errors have been corrected this time, so that the Bowie knife can assume its rightful place as the official state knife of Texas.


Most of these bills will not pass. The 87th legislative session is likely to focus on the issues related to COVID. Right now there are hundreds of bills between the House and the Senate (not counting resolutions). Some of these bills may be more likely to pass in future legislative sessions (e.g. those related to marijuana, gender identity, and sexual orientation discrimination), but time will tell what happens.

The information provided in this blog is for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. If you need legal advice, then you should speak with a lawyer about your specific issues. Every legal issue is unique. A lawyer can help you with your situation. Reading the blog, contacting me through the site, emailing me or commenting on a post does not create an attorney-client relationship between any reader and me.

The information provided is my own and does not reflect the opinion of my firm or anyone else.

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