You may have heard that Texas is an “employment at-will” state. However, the employment-at-will doctrine is not without its limits. Terminations initiated by the employer must not be discriminatory or in violation of specific federal, state or local laws. For example, the employer is legally prohibited from taking any “adverse employment action” against an employee because of his or her race, gender, age, disability, national origin, or any other legally protected characteristic or activity. An employer is prohibited from terminating an employee for any of the following protected activities:
- Initiating or filing a workers’ compensation claim;
- Participating in an investigation of alleged discrimination
- Jury service.
- Refusing to perform an illegal act.
- Reporting violations of law.
- Filing a complaint of discrimination on the basis of a protected category, such as sex, race, national origin, age, religion, or disability.
In some situations, an employee's at-will status may be altered by a written or implied contract, or a state or local law. In addition, although employee handbooks and policy manuals are generally viewed as non-binding guidelines, language appearing in a handbook that specifically and expressly restricts the employer's right to terminate may be interpreted as altering the at-will status. Further, if you have an employment contract, any termination generally must be conducted pursuant to the terms and conditions of the contract.
If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, please contact the LAW OFFICE OF CARABIN & SHAW today.
For immediate assistance, call us toll-free at 800-862-1260.