Texas State Laws

TEXAS LEGISLATURE PASSES COMPREHENSIVE SEXUAL MISCONDUCT LEGISLATION

The University of Texas at Arlington is committed to maintaining an educational and working environment that is free from discrimination on the basis of sex and free from sexual misconduct in accordance with Title IX, Title VII, and the Campus SaVE Act. UTA strives to ensure that all employees are informed and aware of their responsibilities as required by state regulations.

Two new Texas State laws, SB 212 and HB 1735, became effective January 1, 2020, and have a significant effect on UTA’s employees and UTA’s Title IX obligations. Title IX and other federal laws, including Violence Against Women’s Act (VAWA) and the Clery Act remain in full force and effect for federal enforcement of sex discrimination impacting any person’s access to a federally funded education program, benefit, or activity.

Key Points

  • Starting January 1, 2020, all employees (including student employees) who, in the course and scope of employment, witnesses or receives information regarding an incident that the employee reasonably believes could constitute a “Title IX incident” that involves a current student or employee, is required to report promptly to the Title IX Coordinator or a deputy coordinator all relevant information that is known about the incident regardless of when or where the incident occurred.
  • Retaliation against persons who report, cooperate or participate in an investigation or disciplinary process is prohibited and subject to disciplinary action.
  • Exceptions to the mandatory reporting requirement:
    • Employees who have been designated by the university as confidential employees and acting in the course and scope of their duties at the time of the disclosure is made. Information disclosed to a confidential employee may only be shared with the alleged victim’s written consent. Under new state law, confidential employees are required to report the type of incident only.
    • Alleged victims are not mandatory reporters of/for their own incident.
    • Employees are not required to report an incident that is disclosed at a public awareness event that is sponsored by the institution or sponsored by a student organization.
  • Consequences for failure to report or filing a false report:
    • While mandatory reporting requirements for all employees were previously in effect under federal law and UTA policy, new state law provides that, an employee who fails to report or falsely reports an incident of sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, or stalking may be subject to a criminal offense (misdemeanor).
    • The University must terminate any employee who it determines in accordance with the institution’s disciplinary procedure to have not made a required report.

For more information or training requests on Title IX and/or new state legislation, contact Title IX Coordinator, Michelle Willbanks at titleix@uta.edu or fill out a training request form.

Frequently Asked Questions

SB 212 and HB 1735, which passed in the 86th Texas legislative session, contains state provisions that apply to Title IX-related institutional policies, processes, and procedures. U.T. System has issued guidance on and The Texas Higher Education Board (“THECB”) has adopted administrative rules for SB 212 and HB 1735. The UTA Title IX Office has conducted training across campus the past few months on these updates. Questions continue to arise, which we hope to answer in these FAQ’s. These FAQ’s will continue to be updated as necessary.

UTA Policy EI-PO8 states, “Employees (other than Confidential Employees, as defined by the policy) have the duty to report incidents of, and information reasonably believed to be, sexual misconduct to the Title IX Office”, which they learn about during the course and scope of employment.

No. The administrative rules state that the term “course and scope of employment” means an employee performing duties in the furtherance of the institution’s interests, and therefore, an employee’s personal time would not constitute “course and scope of employment.” Essentially it means while on campus or otherwise on the job. If an employee learns of an incident during their personal time it is not required to be reported.

SB 212 states that an employee is required to report if the student is enrolled at the institution “at the time of the alleged incident.” Due to the academic nature of these types of assignments, unless it is reasonably clear from the paper that the student was enrolled at the time of the incident, it is not required to be reported to the Title IX Coordinator.

No. Visiting scholars are not required to report if the visiting scholars are not employees of UTA, but are encouraged to do so. However, if UTA contracts or sponsors the visiting scholar (e.g. visiting faculty or researcher (unpaid)) while at UTA, UTA can include a reporting requirement of the visiting scholar to report, per the conditions of their visiting scholar contract with UTA.

If the visiting scholars are not employees of UTA, then no compliance training is required. However, if UTA has created a UTA ID for the visiting scholar (e.g. visiting faculty or researcher), then UTA can assign/require compliance training.

Student employees are still employees, therefore, they are required to report any incidents they learn about during the “course and scope of employment.”

No. University volunteers are not required to report if they are not employees of UTA, although we encourage them to do so. However, if UTA contracts or sponsors the volunteers through a department or program at UTA, UTA can include a reporting requirement of the volunteers, per the conditions of their volunteer agreement with the department or program.

If Employee A is notified of an incident from the victim or a witness to the incident then Employee A must report the incident to the Title IX Coordinator even if Employee A knows the incident was reported to the Title IX Coordinator by someone else. The reason for this is often the victim or witness may report different, or additional, details to different employees. If Employee A learns of an incident through another employee as part of their job responsibilities and Employee A is assured that the incident has already been reported to the Title IX Coordinator, Employee A does not need to report the incident again.

If the UTA nurse or other health care professional is treating a student, then under SB 212, the UTA nurse or other health care professional is required to report the “type of incident” to the Title IX Coordinator, but not specific details of the incident.

Yes. There is no exemption in the Texas statute for peace officers. However, if there is an active police investigation in progress, a temporary delay can be permitted by the Title IX Coordinator. University police departments and Title IX Coordinators should coordinate and agree upon processes for reporting in advance.

Absent consent from an involved party of the reported alleged incident, the Texas statute allows disclosures to university employees who are necessary for an investigation or other related hearings, adjudication process, coordination of the incident response, or implementation of interim measures. In addition, under SB 212, the institutional Title IX Coordinator is required to report to the Chief Executive Officer (institutional President) any incidents that has cause to believe that the safety of any person is in imminent danger as a result of an alleged incident.

Scholastic researchers do not have confidentiality under the law. However, as allowed by SB 212, UTA has designated researchers to speak confidentially with students who are participating as human subjects in research studies. Under this confidentiality designation, the researcher will be required to report “type of incident” to the Title IX Coordinator when it’s reasonably clear an incident occurred while the student was enrolled at UTA, but otherwise will still be able to uphold the confidentiality of the human subject’s identity in the research study.

No, but we encourage them to do so. Although third-party vendor staff might manage spaces on the UTA premises, they staff their operations independently of the postsecondary educational institution. Therefore, third-party vendor staff are not required to report since the staff are employed directly with the third-party vendor. However, if UTA contracts with the third-party vendor, UTA can include a reporting requirement, per their conditions of employment and contract with the institution.

Third-party vendor staff typically do not have direct employment with UTA; therefore, no compliance training is required for vendor staff. However, if UTA has created a UTA ID for the vendor staff person, then UTA can assign/require compliance training.