Wrongful Termination Law
Texas is an at-will employment state, which — essentially — gives employers license to terminate their employees for nearly any reason. For example, an employer may choose to terminate the employment of a retail sales worker on the basis that the worker is not attractive enough to represent the “brand” adequately. Despite the wide berth of discretion granted to Texas employers, there are a number of exceptions to the at-will employment rule. If an employer terminates an employee and their reasoning is prohibited by law, then the employee may be entitled to sue and recover damages for wrongful termination.
What Constitutes Wrongful Termination?
In Texas, there are a number of statutory and case law exceptions to at-will employment. If an employer terminates a protected employee for a reason that is disallowed by law, then the employee will likely have a legitimate claim for wrongful termination.
An employer cannot terminate their employee on the basis of:
- The employee’s status as one of a member of a protected category under state or federal discrimination laws (i.e., age, gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, etc.)
- Whistleblowing activity
- Military and jury duties
- Exercise of voting rights
- Union activities
- The employee’s refusal to commit a crime for the employer
- In violation of any provisions in the employment contract
- And more
It’s important to note that termination of a protected employee does not necessarily indicate that the termination was wrongful. Only if the employee was terminated for legally-disallowed reasons can the employee bring a legitimate claim. For example, if an employer fires a senior employee, that does not necessarily constitute wrongful termination on the basis of discrimination, even if the employee belongs to a protected category (age). There would need to be sufficient evidence proving that the employee was terminated on that basis, and not for some other alternative reason.
At Berg Plummer Johnson & Raval, LLP, our Houston wrongful termination attorneys have years of experience successfully litigating various employment-related claims (including that that involve wrongful termination) on behalf of both employers and employees.
As a general rule, wrongful termination claims can be challenging to litigate, in large part due to the fact that there may be limited evidence, or the evidence itself may be ambiguous. Wrongful termination claims can also be difficult for the employee and employer in other ways. For the employee, the emotional and financial catastrophe of sudden and unjustified termination can have a substantial effect on their overall wellbeing. For the employer, particularly early-stage companies, a wrongful termination claim may demand time and resources that are in short supply — even worse, it may damage the reputation of the company. Given the inherently sensitive and high-stakes nature of wrongful termination claims, it’s important that litigants work with attorneys who have a long track record of success handling wrongful termination claims.
Here at Berg Plummer Johnson & Raval, LLP, we understand that clients have different budgets and objectives when it comes to litigation. We offer unique fee arrangements that are designed to help you accomplish your strategic goals while staying within your budget limitations.