Wrongful Termination in Texas

What Texas Employers Must Know About Wrongful Termination

Wrongful Termination Texas
Texas is an “at-will” state which means that employers can terminate an employee’s position for nearly any reason. However, there are circumstances under which Texas law allows workers to challenge a discharge or termination from a job.

If you’re an employer who is facing a wrongful termination dispute you should know that these types of claims can be valid under Texas law.

We only represent employers in Texas wrongful termination matters

Please note: Wood Edwards LLP exclusively represents employers (defendants). We do not represent employees (plaintiffs). If you’re an employer who needs legal defense because an employee is pursuing a wrongful termination lawsuit, we invite you to contact us to discuss your situation.

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If you’re not ready to speak with an attorney, keep reading to gain a basic understanding of the Texas laws that govern wrongful termination cases.


What Does the Plaintiff Need to Prove in a Texas Wrongful Termination Claim Against You?

Elements-Wrongful-Termination-Case-Texas Employees in Texas who are interested in establishing a wrongful termination claim must prove different elements based upon the individual’s employee status which can include contractual employees, employees at will, or labor union employees.

A valid wrongful termination lawsuit must also be based on an established cause of action, which is a series of legal elements that are used to justify the award of compensation. Cause of actions contain certain elements which an employee must be able to establish to form a valid legal claim.

1. Wrongful Termination Based on Breach of Contract

In the state of Texas, a large number of employees work at-will, which means that these employees can be fired at any time for any reason so long as there is not a law prohibiting this termination. Employees who have an employment contract that limits the employer’s right to fire the employee, however, are not considered at-will employees.

If an employee is fired for any reason prohibited by a contract, the employee may have a breach of contract claim. In order to establish a breach of contract claim, an one must prove several elements:

2. Wrongful Termination Based on Discrimination

All employees in the state of Texas may not be fired for discriminatory reasons. Federal and Texas state law prohibits employers from firing companies on the basis of age, citizenship status, color, disability, genetic information, national origin, pregnancy,  race, religion, or sex. To prove that wrongful termination occurred due to discrimination, individuals must demonstrate the following elements:

3. Wrongful Termination Based on Retaliation

Retaliation occurs when an employer wrongfully terminates an employee for exercising a legal right. Some of the legal rights that have resulted in retaliatory actions include: filing a discrimination or harassment complaint, requesting or exercising a right under the Family Medical Leave Act, complaining about workplace safety, filing a workers’ compensation claim, blowing the whistle on unlawful conduct, and engaging in union organizing activities.

To win a retaliation case, a party must successfully establish the following elements:

4. Wrongful Termination Based on Harassment

Harassment by an employer can include many types of behavior including: exclusion from key meetings and information, applying double standards to employees, adding or removing an employee’s workload, withdrawing support from an employee, increasing criticism of an employee, setting impossible performance expectations, or spreading defamatory comments about an employee.

If an employer is aware of harassment occurring but takes no actions to remedy this behavior, an employee treating can be viewed as “constructive termination”, which means the equivalent of wrongful termination even though an employee has quit their position.

5. Wrongful Termination Based on Refusal to Perform a Criminal Act

Law in the state of Texas prohibits employers from firing employees in situations where the employer has requested that the employee commit an illegal act and the employee refuses. This law does not apply to situations where an employer suggests that an employee perform a criminal act or demands that an employee perform the criminal act but does not fire the employee.

Instead, an employer must give an employee the option to either commit the criminal act or lose the individual’s job. In addition to protecting an individual’s employment, this law also permits employees to contact law enforcement or the applicable regulatory agency to determine whether the individual is permitted to perform to the requested act. This law arises from a 1985 decision by the Texas Supreme Court that gave an action wrongful termination by an employee who had refused to perform an illegal act.

The rationale behind this regulation is that when an employer asks an employee to performing an illegal act, the employer is placing the employee in the position of having to risk being fired or face criminal penalties. In one example, a Texas court held that a car salesman fired for refusing to misrepresent the trade-in value of a vehicle.

6. Wrongful Termination Based on Violation of Civil Rights Statutes

A variety of federal and Texas law protect employees from wrongful termination due to violations of the employee’s protected rights. Employers in the state of Texas are prohibited from terminating employment on the basis of discrimination on the basis of age, disability, ethnicity, genetic information, immigration status, national origin, race, religion, sex, or as retaliation against employees who report discrimination internally or externally in a corporation.

Employers are also prohibited from terminating an employee who has the right to take time off of work for one of several reasons which include the following.


Wrongful Termination Settlements in Texas

Wrongful-Termination-Settlements-Texas Wrongful termination claims in Texas are by no means easy for the plaintiff to prove. However, if you’ve consulted with a qualified Texas employment attorney who agrees that you have a strong claim, you’re likely interested in what you can expect from the settlement process.

The value of a wrongful termination claim depends upon a variety of factors which can vary greatly between cases. Below we’ll look at what to expect from the wrongful termination settlement process.

Strategies Commonly Used by Plaintiff Attorneys in Wrongful Termination Cases

After an initial meeting, an employment attorney will assess evidence all evidence in an employee’s case and calculate approximate losses. Based upon the applicable laws violated by an employer, the strength of evidence, and the amount of losses incurred due to a wrongful termination, there are several different strategies that might be used by an attorney.

Factors Analyzed by Courts

Courts in wrongful termination cases analyze several types of factors which include the following:

Types of Damages that Can Be Received

There are several types of damages that individual can expect to receive due to a wrongful termination case. In many cases, there are limitations regarding the type of damages to which an individual is entitled and how much the individual could potentially receive.

Some of the various types of damages that individuals can receive in these situations include:

Current Statistics Regarding Wrongful Termination Cases

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commision reports that 88,778 discrimination charges were filed in the year of 2014. Monetary relief from cases that were litigated total $22.5 million over this period. Some other important statistics include: 67 percent of employment cases result in favorable judgments for the employee.

Further Reading: Wrongful Termination Laws:

Note: The content here is for informational purposes only. It should not be taken as legal advice. This information should not be taken as the formation of a lawyer or attorney client relationship.