Texas Senate Bill 212 (S.B. 212) is a new law that will go into effect on January 1, 2020.
What is S.B. 212?
When it takes effect on January 1, 2020, S.B 212 will require employees of institutions of higher learning who, in the course and scope of their employment, witness or learn of an incident that the employee reasonably believes constitutes anything within a wide range of actions which might be considered sexual misconduct by or against a student of that institution to “promptly” report that information to the institution’s Title IX coordinator or deputy coordinator. Those various actions are “sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, or stalking,”and the incidents must have been taken by or against a person who was a student enrolled at or an employee of the institution at the time of the incident.
What schools does this law apply to?
This new law only applies to employees of institutions of higher learning, meaning post-secondary education. It does not apply to elementary, middle school or high school institutions.
What kind of report does the law require?
The report must include all information concerning the incident known to the reporting person that is relevant to the investigation and, if applicable, redress of the incident, including whether the alleged victim has expressed a desire for confidentiality in reporting the incident. If the alleged victim has expressed to the reporting employee that he or she wishes to maintain his or her confidentiality, then the employee is required to report only the type of incident reported, and may not include any information that would violate alleged victim’s expectation of privacy.
Are there exceptions to these reporting requirements?
Exceptions to the employee’s duty to report are if the employee himself or herself is the victim, or if the employee learns about an incident as a part of a public awareness event.
How do you commit an offense under this new law?
The offense occurs when an employee either fails to make a report within the guidelines set forth in S.B. 212, or knowingly makes a false report.
What are the penalties for this new crime?
Failure to report or making a false report constitutes a Class B Misdemeanor, unless the employee tries to conceal the incident which he or she was obligated to report. In that case, the employee may be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor. Class B Misdemeanors carry a potential penalty of 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. Class A Misdemeanors carry a potential penalty of year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000. In both instances, the institution must fire an employee who does not comply with S.B. 212, but may not retaliate against an employee who does comply by making a report required by the law.
What should I do?
If you are an employee of an institution of higher learning in Texas, you must be aware of this new law. If you have been charged with a crime under this law, the best thing contact us right away.
We have extensive Title IX experience, and can advise you of your rights and assert the best possible defense on your behalf. For a free, initial case evaluation, contact the Law Office of Paul Schiffer at 713-521-0059