What is the law in Texas of Unlawful Termination?

What can I do if I have been wrongfully terminated?

Texas is an ‘At Will’ employment state which means that legally, any employment relationship must be voluntarily created and maintained through the free will of both employer and employee. If one party does not consent to the continuation of employment, the other cannot force the non-consenting party into such an arrangement. However, there are some circumstances under which employment can be considered unlawful under either state or federal law which may be relevant to your situation. It is illegal for an employer to terminate an employee:

• For refusing to break a law
• In retaliation for filing a discrimination or safety claim
• Without following its own stated procedure or policy

Some of the most common unlawful termination cases invovle the following:

(1) Without following its own stated procedure or policy

Companies are usually required to issue a handbook stating their policies and on termination. This would normally include formal warnings, counselling on poor performance and documentation relating to unacceptable behaviour or performance. If the company does not follow its own policies in relation to termination, then it will be considered unlawful. You should definitely check the employee handbook to see if the company has followed its own procedures for termination.

(2) Filing a safety claim

Federal and state laws require that most employers furnish a place of employment that is free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees. In most instances, an employee will anonymously complain to a state or federal agency about an unsafe work environment and be protected against employer reprisals.

However, if you have openly made your concerns about the safety of the workplace known to your employer. It is illegal under both federal and state laws to terminate an employee for filing a safety claim. The facts you have described indicate that there were a number of possible safety breaches which were occurring in your place of work and that you documented them and submitted a report. If the real reason that you were terminated was because you submitted a safety report, this is illegal and there may be remedies available to you for reinstatement.

In Texas, the Workers’ Health and Safety Division of the Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission provides assistance with workplace safety and health issues to employers, employees, and workers’ compensation insurance carriers and policyholders. You should definitely contact this body for assistance in relation to this matter.

Finally, you should contact a local law firm to see if they will represent you in any action which you may wish to commence against the employer. They will also be able to advise you on any settlement process or procedure which you may enter into with your employer if they choose to offer compensation.


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