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Refusal to Commit an Illegal Act: Austin Lawyer

If your Austin employer ever asks you to commit an illegal act, you may be unsure how to handle your situation from a legal and professional standpoint. Fortunately, you are not alone, and the law is on your side. Though state at-will employment laws dictate that an employer may terminate an employee at any time, Austin employment law protects employees that are fired unfairly. If your employer instructs you to perform a criminal act, you should have the right to refuse the order without consequence. If this refusal results in your termination, you may be entitled to compensation.

Although most states did not initially include exceptions to at-will employment rules, in the past three decades, 22 different states, including Texas have amended their stance. In Austin, and elsewhere across the state, one of the most common exceptions in cases of wrongful termination is Sabine Pilot.

Sabine Pilot Claims

As any wrongful termination lawyer in Austin, TX knows, a Sabine Pilot exception relates to the refusal to commit illegal acts. It is a judge-based rule of law that says that the refusal must be the sole reason for the firing. In the 1985 case, the employer, Sabine Pilot, asked an employee to perform an illegal activity. The employee knew the act was criminal and refused. After his refusal, Sabine Pilot fired him. The court then decided that his termination was illegal.

In the case of Peine v. HIT Services, however, the Texas State Supreme Court rejected the Sabine Pilot claim. In that instance, Mr. Peine, CFO of HIT Services, was ordered to falsify financial logs. This directive made him uncomfortable, so he refused. When he didn’t comply, his superiors began to consider termination and threatened to “clean house” if things did not change. Peine refused but wasn’t fired until he reported these activities to the media.

While being a whistleblower and combating the dishonest practices of a company is not a fireable offense, the court upheld Mr. Peine’s termination because he breached employment confidentiality. Because the HIT bosses did not hastily terminate Peine before he talked with a member of the media, the company (and later, the court) had more than just the refusal to consider when they terminated him.

Let Our Austin Employment Lawyers Help You

If yours is a case of wrongful termination following a refusal to commit an illegal act, our Austin lawyers might be able to help. Any reasonable and compassionate attorney understands that this kind of unexpected loss of steady income can severely affect your quality of life in many ways.

If you believe you experienced wrongful termination, a Carabin Shaw attorney will help you pursue the reparations you deserve. If you are attempting to prove that your employer inappropriately fired you for a refusal to commit an illegal act, an Austin lawyer can assemble the facts of your case and help you show that some form of occupational injustice has occurred.

Even if you are not sure if your case falls into the category wrongful termination, our Austin employment lawyers can help you determine if you have a case. We will assemble the facts and protect your right to obtain maximum compensation by highlighting how losing your job affected you, including:

  • Loss of wages
  • Loss of benefits
  • Punitive damages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Future loss of wages
  • Reputational damage
Contact a Carabin Shaw Austin Attorney Today

The attorneys at our firm serve all types of personal injury clients in practice areas across the state, and we want nothing more than to fight for the rights of our fellow Texans. The lawyers at Carabin Shaw are ready to leverage our decades of experience to help you.

If your employer fired you for refusal to commit an illegal act, a lawyer in Austin has your back. We have representatives standing by to take your call, answer questions about your case, and set up a free initial consultation. Reach out to Carabin Shaw today, toll-free, at 800-862-1260.

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

Austin Office
1609 Shoal Creek Blvd #100
Austin, TX 78701


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