Employment laws determine what is legal in the workplace and the rights of employees and their employers. These laws exist in order to ensure the safety and fair treatment of workers while also protecting the interests of employers. The laws are based on both federal and state constitutions, administration, legislation and opinions of the court. In some cases, a contract may dictate an employment relationship.

What are the Main Federal Employment Laws?

There are certain employment laws on the federal level that regulate a number of aspects of the workforce and the rights of employees. The following are the main laws pertaining to employment:

Fair Labor Standards Act: This law determines the federal minimum wage and overtime rates. It also regulates child labor, which limits the number of hours a minor can work.
Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA): This law dictates the pension plans offered by employers to their employees, although it does not apply to all private employers. Essentially, it sets the standards for retirement plans.
Family Medical and Family Leave Act: This law makes it a requirement for all employers with over 50 employees to offer a maximum of 12 weeks of unpaid leave in the event of the birth or adoption of a child or an illness of a spouse, child, parent or the employee themselves. It also includes protection for emergencies related to the active military service of a family member.
Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA): This law governs the safety and health conditions in certain industries to ensure that workers are protected against serious hazards. Employers are required to have a poster posted publicly in the workplace that shows employees’ rights to request an inspection, how to get training for work environments that may be hazardous and how to report potential issues.

Overtime Laws in Texas

Texas overtime laws apply when an employee works longer than 40 hours per week. Generally, the state will pay any worker who works longer than 40 hours per week time and a half of their normal rate of pay.

As per the Fair Labor Standards Act and Texas Payday Law, the amount that an employer must pay in overtime to employees who work over 40 hours a week is calculated based on a steady work schedule within seven days and a schedule of 24 hours per day. Compensation for overtime must be 1.5 hours for each hour of overtime an employee puts in.

Certain employees are not entitled to overtime pay. Exempt employees — temp workers, seasonal workers and salaried employees — taxi drivers, farmworkers, delivery drivers and employees of railroads and some airlines do not receive overtime.

Wrongful Termination in Texas

In Texas, employment is at-will, which means that an employer can terminate an employee for any reason or no reason at all. Likewise, an employee can quit their job without stating a reason for wanting to do so. However, it is illegal for employers to wrongfully terminate a worker. Wrongful termination would entail an employer firing a worker based on their race, color, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, pregnancy, religion or citizenship status.

The law also applies when an employee is fired for refusing to perform an illegal act. This is known as the Illegal Act Exception. It applies to any type of activity that is considered a crime in Texas and the country as a whole.