Texas Wrongful Termination Attorney
If you believe you have been wrongfully fired from your job, please contact the employment and wrongful termination attorney of Hughes Ellzey, LLP to speak with a Texas wrongful termination lawyer, or call toll-free (888) 350-3931 for a free case evaluation.
Texas is an employment-at-will state, which means, in the absence of a contract, either the employer or the employee may terminate the employment relationship at any time, with or without cause. In other words, an employer can discharge an at-will employee for any reason unless prohibited by contract, statute, or common law.
There are several exceptions from the employment at-will doctrine. An employee can rebut the presumption of at-will employment and recover for wrongful discharge if the employee shows that the circumstances constitute an exception to the general rule.
Texas state law provides the following exceptions:
- An employee of a state or local governmental unit discharged for whistleblowing.
- A nursing home employee discharged for whistleblowing.
- A hospital, mental-health-facility, or treatment-facility employee discharged for whistleblowing. This exception also applies to non-employees who suffer retaliation from a hospital, mental health facility, or treatment facility for whistleblowing.
- A physician discharged for reporting the acts of another physician to the State Board of Medical Examiners.
- An employee discharged because of race, color, disability, religion, national origin, age, or sex.
- An employee discharged for reporting or opposing violations of the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act.
- An employee discharged because of mental retardation.
- An employee discharged for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
- An employee discharged because of union membership or non-membership.
- A permanent employee discharged because of active-duty service or training in the military forces of Texas or any other state.
- A permanent employee discharged for serving on a jury.
- An employee discharged for complying with a valid subpoena.
- An employee discharged for having a child-support withholding order against the employee.
- An employee discharged for taking time off to vote or to attend a political convention, or for refusing to vote in a certain way.
- An employee discharged for reporting violations of the Hazard Communication Act.
- An employee discharged for exercising the employee’s rights under the Agricultural Hazard Communication Act.
- An employee discharged for using the Worker’s Commission’s toll-free telephone service to report a violation of an occupational health or safety law.
- An employee discharged without good cause while labor and arbitration pursuant to the Texas Labor Arbitration Act is pending.
- An employee discharged for refusing to buy certain merchandise.
- An employee discharged for refusing to take an AIDS test, unless the test is necessary as a bona fide occupational qualification.
- A registered nurse discharged for reporting incidents of poor nursing to the Board of Nurse Examiners.
- A health-care employee discharged for refusing to participate in an abortion or for participating in an abortion at another facility.
- An employee of Harris County or Dallas County discharged for participating in the county grievance procedure.
Federal law also provides exceptions to the at-will employment doctrine. They are the following:
- An employee discharged because of age.
- An employee discharged because of race, color, sex, religion, or national origin.
- An employee discharged for reporting or opposing a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
- An employee discharged because of a disability.
- An employee discharged for refusing to submit to a lie detector test.
- An employee discharged for declaring bankruptcy.
- An employee discharged for filing a wage and hour claim.
- An employee discharged for engaging in or refusing to engage in union activity.
- An employee discharged to prevent the employee from attaining vested pension rights.
- An employee discharged without receiving notice of a plant closing or mass layoff.
- An employee discharged for whistleblowing about the following:
- Job-related health and safety.
- Violations of commercial-motor-vehicle safety regulations.
- Asbestos hazards.
- Unsafe shipping containers.
- Violations of federal water and air-pollution laws.
- Mishandling of toxic substances.
- Violations of federal energy laws or Department of Energy Procedures.
- Violations of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954.
- Violations of airline regulations.
- Accounting irregularities or securities-law violations at publicly traded companies (Sarbanes-Oxley).
- Unsafe pipeline operation.
Wrongful Discharge For Refusing To Commit An Illegal Act
This is an exception created by Texas courts to protect employees from being terminated for refusing to do something the employer directs the employee to do that is illegal. The employees’ refusal to commit the illegal act must be the sole reason the employee is fired.