Texas is a right-to-work state. As such, in the state of Texas, employees cannot be discriminated against (in other words, subjected to an adverse employment action) on the basis of their membership or participation in union activities. Though the law is relatively straightforward, its protections apply to a surprising breadth of activity and as such, many employers (and employees) fail to recognize whether and when discrimination has actually occurred.
Here at Berg Plummer Johnson & Raval, LLP, our Houston union lawyers have decades of experience litigating employment law cases involving union participation (and non-participation) and discrimination and adverse actions take on such basis. Given our track record of success in this area, our attorneys are well-positioned to assess the discrimination claims at-issue and develop a winning litigation strategy.
In Texas, employees are not to be denied employment on the basis of their membership or participation in a union. This applies to non-participation, as well. For example, a business may not refuse to hire a person who is not a member of a union — though there may be legitimate concerns about hiring non-union employees in some cases (i.e., concerns about how the relationship with union member employees will be influenced or affected by the hiring), taking membership status into account when hiring is illegal and can expose the employer to civil liability.
The anti-discrimination protections continue to apply during contract negotiations and after the employment contract has begun. A non-union employee has the right to bargain freely and independently with their employer, without the interference of a union. The employer cannot force an employee to collectively bargain with their colleagues, nor can they force a union member employee to bargain independently.
Labor Unions — a Broad Definition
Importantly, “union” anti-discrimination protections apply to any group or organization intending to improve labor conditions and help employees bargain collectively. For example, if a group of non-union employees decide to meet every weekend to discuss their workplace conditions and how to negotiate to improve such conditions, the employer cannot take adverse employment actions against said employees.
Texas law protects persons from being denied employment, or from otherwise being subject to adverse employment actions, on the basis of their participation or non-participation in a labor union. Discrimination claims brought on the basis of one’s status as a union member (or participation therein) can be rather complicated to litigate. Here at Berg Plummer Johnson & Raval, LLP, our Houston union lawyers have represented both employees and employers in such actions, and are well-equipped to handle interrelated union and employment issues as they arise.
Litigation can have significant consequences for both employees and employers. Employees may be wrongfully and unjustifiably denied the right to work on the basis of their union participation or non-participation, thus locking them out of employment for an extended period and putting them at grave financial risk. Meanwhile, employers may be exposed to damages and reputation loss if the lawsuit is not handled effectively.
Budget may be a concern when it comes to litigating a discrimination claim. At Berg Plummer Johnson & Raval, LLP, we work closely with our clients to develop fee arrangements that are customized to their particular legal objectives and resource constraints.