Employment laws in the US may differ from state to state, and there is no wrongful termination law that is universal for all states. In Texas, the practice of at-will employment makes it difficult to sue for wrongful termination except under specific circumstances. Employment lawyers will be able to assess your case for merit.
What is wrongful termination?
Wrongful termination is the dismissal or discharge of an employee under circumstances that breach employment law or an employment contract. These circumstances may involve one or more of the following:
- Any type of discrimination
- As retaliation for a claim of discrimination
- As punishment for an employee refusing to participate in anything illegal
- Failure to follow the company’s published (i.e. in the employee handbook) termination process
This is wrongful termination in general terms, but wrongful termination can mean different things from state to state. It should also be noted that a de facto legal relationship between an employer and employee is presumed in the absence of an employment contract, so the employer is still bound by a particular state’s employment law.
What is employment at-will in Texas?
Employment at-will means that an employer may decide to terminate an employee without providing a reason or cause. Employers in Texas and California often designate their employees under this category. The at-will statute, however, is not absolute. In most cases, if an employee can prove that their termination was due to discrimination or retaliation, then a case for wrongful termination may be brought against the employer.
It must be noted, though, that in Texas, the definition of wrongful termination is more stringent. The employee must prove that the termination was due to a refusal to perform or participate in a criminal act as defined by Texas or federal law. An act that construes a violation of civil law does not constitute an illegal act in this context. Dismissal due to an employee whistle-blowing on an employer for unlawful conduct is not recognized as a basis for a wrongful termination case, unless the plaintiff is employed by the government.
There are many ifs and buts in Texas when it comes to wrongful termination. Employment lawyers well versed with Texas employment laws, like the team at Melton and Kumler, would be the best judge of whether a wrongful termination case has merit or not.