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When is firing a worker wrongful termination in an at-will state?

Most workers in Texas and around the country are at-will employees. This means that they can quit their jobs whenever they want to and for any reason without worrying about being sued by their employers. It also means that their employers can fire them at any time and for almost any reason. However, there are some situations where firing at-will employees is considered a wrongful termination. In these situations, fired workers can file lawsuits against their employers or submit complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Discrimination and retaliation

Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects workers against discrimination based on race, religion, color, sex and national origin. Further workplace protections are provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. When firing workers violates these laws, it is considered wrongful. Termination is also wrongful when workers are fired in retaliation becasue they engaged in behavior like whistleblowing that is in the public interest.

Employment contracts

Workers who sign employment contracts are often bound by noncompete and nondisclosure clauses, but they usually cannot be fired for any reason. Most employment contracts specify clearly what sort of behavior could lead to termination and what steps employers must take before letting workers go. When employers fail to abide by the terms of their employment agreements, they can be sued by fired workers for breach of contract.

At-will employment

At-will employment allows employers to run their businesses as they please and workers to quit if they become dissatisfied or find more attractive opportunities. These arrangements allow employers to terminate workers at any time and for almost any reason, but they can still face lawsuits or EEOC complaints if they make discriminatory firing decisions, retaliate against workers who expose wrongdoing or violate the terms of employment contracts.