Many Texas employees believe that they have been wrongfully terminated, but often what they really mean is that they were terminated without cause or a real justification. Time and again Texas employees are terminated even though they performed their jobs perfectly, followed all their employer’s instructions, had no complaints or write-ups, and in some cases, were even model employees.
Therefore, it may come as a surprise to employees when they are suddenly terminated without explanation; but without an express agreement (e.g., an employment contract), the basic employment rule is that employment in Texas is “at will.”
What is at-will employment?
“At-will employment” means that an employer can choose to end the employment relationship or change the terms of employment at any time.
So you can be fired at any time, with or without notice, for a bad or good reason, or even for no reason at all. However, you cannot be fired for an illegal reason!
What are illegal reasons for termination?
There are various exceptions to Texas “at-will” employment. It is illegal for an employer to base a decision to demote or terminate an employee on any of the following:
- Age (40 years or older; employers with at least 20 employees)
- Pregnancy (15 or more employers)
- Race or color
- Sexual orientation or gender identity (certain Texas cities)
2. Refusing to commit a criminal act
3. Membership or non-membership in a union
4. Federal whistleblower acts
5. Filing an OSHA claims, federal wage and hour claims, or workers’ compensation claims
7. Jury duty
8. Military duty
If you believe that you have been terminated based on any of the above, it is important that you contact a Texas employment lawyer as soon as possible. These types of claims have very short time requirements to file, and if you fail to file before the deadline, your claim will be barred and you will no longer be able to file a lawsuit for the unlawful conduct.
What can be done if I have been wrongfully terminated?
The purpose of allowing employees to sue for wrongful termination is so that the employee can be put in the same position they would have been in if they had not been wrongfully terminated. Therefore, depending on your specific legal claim, there are various legal remedies available to you. Some damages you may be entitled to include:
- Back pay and future pay
- Reinstatement to your job
- Punitive damages
- Injunction against future illegal conduct
- Attorney’s fees, expert witness fees, and court costs