Texas has laws in place to protect whistleblowers from retaliation. It may be an at-will employment state, but it’s illegal for employers to fire employees in retaliation for discrimination or reporting illegal acts to authorities.
Proving wrongful discharge
Texas typically requires employees to prove that their employer fired them for refusing to do an illegal act when they make a wrongful discharge claim. There are additional protections in place to handle issues surrounding workers’ compensation, occupational safety and health, general public evacuation, healthcare employment and discrimination. Private contracts or collective bargaining agreements may also provide more protection.
The Texas Whistleblower Act offers protections for whistleblowers from state and local governments. It protects you if you report employer violations to an appropriate law enforcement authority. Examples of state and local government entities include bus drivers, state educational institutions, boards, commissions and law enforcement.
Filing a whistleblower retaliation claim
Texas law has a few factors it looks for to accept a whistleblower retaliation claim. Whistleblower claims must involve a public employee, and the employee must have acted in good faith when they filed the report. It’s necessary that you filed a report with the appropriate law enforcement authority as well. The type of retaliation you’re experiencing influences what type of report you should file. In some cases, you should file a report with the human resources department, and in other cases it may be the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that you need to file a report with.
You should hold onto evidence of your employer treating you unfairly. Don’t delete emails, throw out notes or delete any other form of communication or evidence of their actions. Also, record changes to your position whether or not they seem important. This information is helpful if your employer terminates you when some time has passed after the incident. Not all employers will immediately fire a whistleblower to avoid suspicion. They may use sneaky tactics like laying off a group of employees or waiting for the employee to go against company policy to get rid of them.
Public employees in Texas can seek compensation for whistleblower retaliation claims as long as they meet eligibility requirements. They must also prove that the termination of their job was wrongful.