Texas Employee Rights
A variety of Texas laws protect the rights of employees across the state, covering issues related to occupational safety, minimum wage, labor policies, and discrimination.
As an employer, if you are facing a potential lawsuit alleging a breach of employee rights, you should consider speaking with a employer defense lawyer who can assess your situation and formulate a defense.
What are Texas Employee Wage and Salary Rights?
In Texas, employees are guaranteed the right to fair wages for their work. The Texas Minimum Wage Act, for instance, prohibits employers in the state from paying employees a salary that falls below federal minimum wage standards, which is currently set at $7.25 per hour. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers are also required to pay overtime to employees who:
- Work more than eight hours a day; or
- Work more than 40 hours a week.
The standard rate of overtime pay is one and one half of an employee’s regular hourly rate, unless an employee works more than twelve hours a day, in which case he or she must be paid double. There are, however, a few exceptions to overtime and minimum wage laws that apply to the following individuals:
- Executive employees;
- Administrative employees, which includes employees who perform office duties and are paid on a salary basis;
- Professional employees, which includes creative, learned, and teaching professionals;
- Outside salesmen, which applies to those whose primary duties are making sales or obtaining contracts for services and who regularly perform their job duties away from the employer’s place of business;
- Employees who provide domestic services
- Employees of amusement and recreational businesses that don’t operate for more than seven months a year or have receipts revealing that sales in the preceding six months do not exceed 33 1/3 percent of average receipts for the remainder of the year;
- Family members of the employer;
- Dairy farmers; and
- Employees who are engaged in the production of livestock.
Except in these select circumstances, Texas employers are required to comply with both minimum wage and overtime laws.
What are an Employer’s Record Keeping Responsibilities?
To help ensure that employers are paying their workers fairly, both federal and state law require employers to keep extensive records of each employee’s hours. Employees also have the right to request a review of these records, as well as a review of how much they are making.
Are Employees Guaranteed a Rest or Meal Break?
Neither the FLSA nor Texas labor law requires employers to provide meal periods or rest breaks for their employees. However, many employers still choose to offer these breaks, in which case, the employees must be paid, unless the breaks exceed 30 minutes.
When can an Employee Collect Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Texas law does not require private employers to provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage to their employees. However, many employers choose to do so, as these policies protect employers from liability except in cases involving gross negligence or an intentional act or omission on the employer’s part. Covered employees who are injured while on the job have the right to receive workers’ compensation benefits, which include medical coverage and the replacement of a portion of lost wages.
Can an Employer Fire an Employee for any Reason?
Texas is an at-will employment state, which means that in the absence of a specific statute or employment contract, an employee can be terminated for any reason and without notice. There are a few exceptions to this rule, which state that employees cannot be fired because:
- They refused to commit an illegal act on the employer’s behalf;
- Of their race, age, gender, disability, national origin, religion, or another protected category;
- They are members of a union; or
- They filed a claim of discrimination or notified authorities of a workplace safety violation.
Employees who have reason to believe that these rights have been violated can file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which investigates disputes between employers and employees.
When can an Employee Collect Unemployment Benefits?
Texas employees who suffer a job loss are entitled to unemployment benefits, but only if they were terminated through no fault of their own. If, for example, an employee was let go because of a lack of work, he or she could be eligible for a monetary award, at least until he or she was able to find other work. To find out if an applicant is eligible for unemployment benefits, he or she must file a claim with the Texas Workforce Commission.
Speak with an Employer Defense Attorney
Please contact Wood Edwards LLP at (214) 760-6893 to speak with an experienced employment law attorney about your own labor-related questions or concerns.