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Exceptions to the Texas Employment-At-Will Doctrine

In the Midland/Odessa region state of Texas, employment practices are regulated by a statewide at-will employment policy. This statute upholds grants the employer the right to terminate employment at any time and for any reason.

Of course, there are exceptions to the Texas employment-at-will doctrine. For example, if you are under an employment contract that guarantees you employment or job security for an allotted amount of time, you are not considered an ‘at-will’ employee. But what does employment-at-will mean in Texas, and how can you tell if your case is an exception?

Understanding Exceptions to the Texas Employment-At-Will Doctrine

Some Texas cities have extended at-will exceptions to include statutes like the Sabine Pilot doctrine and protection against various types of discrimination. Some of the most common exceptions to the state of Texas employment-at-will law include:

Workers’ Compensation Retaliation

This rule basically states that an employer cannot terminate employment because a worker has hired a lawyer or filed a claim related to worker’s compensation. It is important to note here that you must be able to prove to a judge that your worker’s compensation claim was a requisite precursor to your firing.

Texas Commission on Human Rights Act

Of all the exceptions to the Texas employment-at-will doctrine, this one is the most basic and all-encompassing. It includes protection against many of the most common forms of discrimination, including:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Disability
  • Sex
  • Religion
  • Age
  • National Origin

Illegal Act/Sabine Pilot Exceptions

Sabine Pilot claims are those in which a worker has been fired for the sole refusal of complying with an illegal act. This exception protects employees from being fired for protesting criminal or otherwise unlawful activity within a company by refusing to engage in acts they believe to be illegal.

Jury Duty

If you must miss work in order to fulfill the public service obligations of jury duty, you are protected by law from termination. Reporting to court every few years to serve on a jury is one of our basic duties as Texas citizens, and thus is protected by law from affecting your standing with an employer.

Call to Active Duty

If you are a member of the armed forces, and you must leave your civilian job to serve your country in this way, you are protected from Texas’ at-will termination policy. And once you return home, your employer is generally obligated to return your job to you.

Child Support Withholding

According to the Texas Family Code, employers may not use an order or ‘writ of withholding’ as even a part of the reason for termination or the refusal to hire a worker, or as a reason for any other disciplinary actions. If this happens intentionally, the employer remains responsible for the employee’s wages, benefits, attorney’s fees, court expenses, and other costs associated with theworker’s rights.

Subpoena Compliance

If you have been served with a court-ordered appearance, your superiors are prohibited from disciplining you or terminating employment. An employee’s acquiescencewith a valid subpoena requesting that the employee appear in court for legitimate legal proceedings (criminal, civil, administrative, or other) cannot be the source of termination. If your boss handles an employee’s subpoena in this way, he or she may actually be held in contempt of whatever court issued that very same subpoena.

Contact Carabin Shaw’s Odessa Employment Lawyers to Learn More!

There are exceptions to every rule, and determining whether your case may fall under one of these exceptions is crucial when developing an employment lawsuit for wrongful termination or employer retaliation. For more information about the exceptions to the Texas employment-at-will doctrine, a lawyer with experience in such proceedings can help you hold your superiors accountable.

At Carabin Shaw, we believe that whistleblower protection is a crucial piece of the employer/employee relationship in Texas. Our attorneys have more than 2 decades of experience dealing in Texas state and local Odessa business and employment law.

If you live in Odessa and you believe you may be involved in a case of wrongful discharge, you deserve a chance to recover damages accrued. To find out if you have a case, contact the Odessa lawyers from Carabin Shaw today. Call us anytime, toll free, at 800-862-1260, or at our Midland/Odessa attorney’s offices at 432-620-0544.

Visits with the Attorney are by appointment only. Main office San Antonio, Texas.

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