When you work in an “at will” state, your employer can legally fire you at any time, with no notice. While your employer can typically fire you for any lawful reason, a few firing situations violate state or federal laws. In these situations, your Texas employer may be engaging in wrongful termination.
Recognize these discriminatory illegal reasons for firing someone
Most of the acts considered wrongful termination in Texas violate federal anti-discrimination laws. These include:
• Medical or genetic conditions
• Religious status
• Martial situation or status
• Gender or sexual orientation
• Race or ethnicity
• Being “too old” for the job
Employers cannot violate their own contracts
Even in an at-will state, an employment or union contract protects you from being fired for no reason. Your employment or union contract should carefully outline the procedures and reasons that allow for employee termination. Failure to follow the employment or union contract constitutes wrongful termination.
Employers cannot fire you in retaliation
Even when you work in an at-will state, employers cannot fire you in retaliation. Most acts of illegal retaliation occur when the employee has committed the following:
• Reported safety violations
• Filed complaints about unpaid wages
• Reported violations of labor law
• Disclosed harassment or discrimination
• Filed workers’ compensation claims
Wrongful termination includes constructive termination
Constructive termination refers to an employer making working conditions so intolerable that the employee must quit in order to remain safe. In order to count as wrongful termination, you must be able to prove that you notified the employer of the working conditions, and they refused to do anything to change the conditions.
Your rights should be protected even in at-will states
At-will employment often provides employers with the false belief that they can fire you for any reason. But your rights remain protected under state and federal law. If your employer violates these rights, you may be able to pursue a wrongful termination lawsuit.