7 Things to Know About Wrongful Termination in Texas
When you feel your employer unjustly fired you, there are a few important things to know about wrongful termination in Texas. To begin, Texas is an “at-will” employment state. This means an employer has the right to terminate an employee for almost any reason.
While some factors seem irrational or trivial, they don’t really need a reason. In fact, without a specific contractual requirement, termination is an option at any time. However, there are limits to legitimate reasons behind termination.
While it is often difficult to prove wrongful termination, employees have certain protections to keep in mind. This includes discrimination against employees or termination of an employee based on a protected class.
- National origin
- Sexual orientation
- Citizenship status
- Marital status
7 Things to Know About Wrongful Termination
It’s important to know about wrongful termination in Texas before you file a lawsuit. Here are some of the key factors to understand when you want to weigh your options.
#1 Unfair Termination Doesn’t Mean Illegal
Oftentimes, employees who want to know about wrongful termination feel that their termination came from out of nowhere. It feels unfair or irrational. Unfortunately, that is not necessarily illegal in Texas.
Employers here have the right to fire employees for almost any reason. While employees have protections, many firings are perfectly legal. To learn more about your rights after a termination, contact an employment lawyer in your area.
#2 Breach of an Employment Contract
When you have a written employment contract that promises you job security, this does not fall under “at-will” employment in Texas. Additionally, implied contracts based on defined statements in an employee handbook can protect employees from random termination.
For instance, one company’s employee handbook may state that termination requires “good cause.” This has the potential to constitute an implied contract. When the employer fires you without good cause, you have the potential to bring forth a claim for breach of contract.
#3 The Illegal Act Exception
Here’s an important thing for public employees to know about wrongful termination in Texas. They have the potential to sue when the employer fires them for refusing to perform an illegal act.
In this case, an “illegal act” is any action that creates a criminal liability under federal or state law. However, this protection does not cover employees of private companies.
#4 The Workers’ Comp Exception
When you file a worker’s compensation claim, an employer cannot terminate you for that. If your employer terminates you for this reason, you have to prove that you’d still have your job without the claim.
#5 Workplace Safety Concerns and OSHA
When you file a report of a safety violation to OSHA in good faith, your employer does not have the right to fire you. This constitutes retaliation under employment law, and a lawyer can help you build your case.
#6 Protected Time Off Work
Under federal and state law, employees have the right to take time off in certain situations. This is one of the most essential things to know about wrongful termination. Employers cannot fire or discipline an employee who exercises these rights.
In Texas, this specifically covers time off for the following reasons.
Texas employees have the right to unpaid leave when called on for jury duty. When an employer terminates a worker for this reason, there may be special damages available in a wrongful termination suit.
Texas employers must allow their employees to take paid time off to vote. However, this does not apply to an employee who has two consecutive hours off from work while polls are open.
Family & Medical Leave
Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employees have protection when they have to take time off for the following reasons.
- Serious health conditions
- Caring for a family member with a severe condition
- Handling matters that arise from a family member’s military service
- Caring for a new child
When an employee takes FMLA time off, the employer is required to reinstate them in the same position once the leave ends.
Under federal law, employees have the right to up to five years of leave in order to serve in the military. At the end of their service, they have the right to be reinstated at work.
#7 Wage & Hour Protections
An array of state and federal laws govern how employees handle wages and hours. When an employee exercises their rights under these laws, employers cannot fire them.
For instance, if someone works over 40 hours a week, federal law requires they earn overtime pay. When the employee requests this pay, the employer cannot terminate them.
Something Else You Want to Know About Wrongful Termination?
If there’s something specific you want to know about wrongful termination, it’s a good idea to consult an attorney. Often, wrongful termination claims in Texas are complex. When an employer’s motivation behind a termination is unlawful, that employee can file a claim against them.
If you feel unsure about what to do, that’s understandable. It’s a tricky subject to navigate on your own. With an experienced attorney on your side, you have an advocate to help you understand your options. Moreover, they can help you understand whether you have a case.
Schedule a consultation today to learn more about your legal options. See what an employment lawyer at Craighead Law Firm can do for you.