The Lawyer Referral Service of Central Texas receives many employment law inquiries about “wrongful termination.” What does that mean? That term is often misunderstood by the general public and only may apply in limited situations including breach of an employment contract, violation of retaliation protections, or the employer violating discrimination-related exceptions.
In Austin, as well as the whole state of Texas, is a “right to work” state, also known as an “at-will” employment state. Those terms mean an employer can fire an employee for any reason or no reason at all, and without prior notice. This may be a difficult concept to understand when an employee has been fired for what seems to be an unfair reason. There exceptions to employment at-will.
Exceptions to At-Will Employment
Although Texas is an “at will” employment state, where employees working without an employment contract may be fired for a good reason, a bad reason, or no reason and with or without warning, there are exceptions. There are laws in place that protect employees in some situations.
- A person cannot be fired based on race, color, religion, gender, age, national origin, disability, or citizenship. Persons who fall into these categories are members of a “protected class.”
- You may be protected from discharge if you have reported an employer’s criminal act.
- You may be protected if you have filed a workers’ compensation claim after being injured on the job.
- If you are terminated for taking time from work to vote, to perform military duties, to perform jury duty, or participate in union activities, you may be protected.
- If the employer has violated an employment agreement, you may have recourse.
Most cases that are brought against employers are for discrimination–for violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Employees must be a members of a protected class and must show evidence of discrimination.
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We serve Austin and the surrounding areas including Bastrop, Buda, Cedar Creek, Cedar Park, Elgin, Georgetown, Kyle, Lago Vista, Lakeway, Leander, Manor, Pflugerville, Round Rock, and San Marcos.