What Is Wrongful Termination in Texas?

Texas is an “employment at will” state. This means that an employer can legally fire an employee for any lawful reason. They may do this at any time.

However, the employer cannot fire an employee for any reason whatsoever. If the employer fires their employee for an unlawful reason, this is called wrongful termination.

Many states, including Texas, are “employment at-will” states. In general, employment at-will means that an employer can legally terminate an employee for any lawful reason at any time. However, this does not allow an employer to fire an employee for any reason at all. If an employer terminates an employee for an unlawful reason, the termination is often called a “wrongful termination.” There are many reasons that the law considers a termination wrongful. For example, wrongful terminations can include:

What are unlawful reasons to terminate an employee?

There are numerous unlawful reasons an employer can terminate an employee. Some of those include:

  • Pregnancy
  • Medical conditions
  • Genetic information
  • Marital status
  • Religion
  • Race, color, national origin
  • The employee is over age 40
  • Military or veteran status
  • Gender, sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation
  • Physical or mental disability
Generally, employees must prove discrimination in unlawful termination cases. Some less clear-cut areas that are nonetheless illegal include:
  • Firing in retaliation for being a whistleblower
  • Retaliation against an employee filing or reporting a complaint about a violation of the law. Usually this includes:
    • Health and safety violations
    • Unpaid wages
    • Labor law violations
    • Discrimination and harassment
  • Political beliefs or affiliations of the of the employee
  • The employee was a victim of a crime. He or she must appear in court as a witness in that crime.
  • An employee needs time off that is permitted by federal law, such as the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
  • Violating the WARN Act (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification). This requires employers to give sufficient notice before mass layoffs. 
  • Constructive termination
    • This is when an employer fails to address working conditions that are so intolerable or unsafe that an employee is all but forced to quit. 
  • The employee is a victim of sexual assault, stalking or domestic violence. He or she must miss work to get a restraining or protective order
  • Firing an employee for a reason that is against public policy. This could mean terminating an employee for refusing to do something illegal. 
  • The employee filed a worker’s compensation claim.

Sometimes a termination is wrongful if the employee faced termination for speaking a language other than English at work. The exception is if speaking English is necessary to operating the business. Another exception is if the employer notified the employees that they must speak English. In this case, they must communicate consequences for not complying. 

Can you sue for wrongful termination in Texas?

Yes. However, filing a lawsuit in court is usually not the first step. This depends on the circumstances of the alleged wrongful termination. First, you might have to file an administrative complaint with a government agency first.  If the employer’s reason for termination were unlawful, then the employee can bring a wrongful termination claim. This is even if the employee is an at-will employee.

If you think you have been wrongfully terminated you might be able to file a lawsuit against your employer and recover damages. It is often difficult to see or prove what actions and motivations led to wrongful termination. This is why it is often worth getting a free consultation with a Texas employment lawyer to determine whether or not your claim is valid. During your meeting, your attorney will help you decide whether your case is worth pursuing. 

What are the fines and damages for wrongful termination cases?

A lot of workers wonder if it’s worth the time to sue their former employers for wrongful termination. Too many people assume that the case would take too long and that they might lose money in the long term. It’s always worth it to get a consultation with an employment lawyer to make this determination.

If the court determines you were wrongfully terminated, you could receive compensation. Most importantly, you could get your job back, receive back pay as well as future pay, be given punitive damages, or even get a promotion. 

With the help of a skilled Texas wrongful termination attorney, you could bring your employer to justice. 

How long do I have to file a wrongful termination claim?

You must file wrongful termination claims within the statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is the amount of time a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit after they suffered harm. Statutes of limitations often depend on the nature of the claim. If you had an employment contract with your employer, this may affect your timeline. With nearly all cases, the statute of limitations starts on the date of termination.

In most cases, the statute of limitations is 180 from the date of termination for filing a claim. If you work in Texas, you would file a claim with the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). The limit extends to 300 days from termination in some instances. This is why it is important to act quickly after your termination. Be sure to keep as much documentation as possible.

After filing a claim with the appropriate agency, you can file a lawsuit against your employer. You must file your lawsuit within two years. 

How can a wrongful termination lawyer in Texas help?

Speaking with a Texas employment attorney to discuss your wrongful termination claim is always in your best interest. These cases are difficult to prove. You will most likely need the help of an experienced attorney to successfully navigate the process. 

An employment law attorney will help you gather the necessary evidence. This will be necessary to prove the elements of a wrongful termination lawsuit. An employment attorney will ensure you file the necessary documents with the correct government agency. Additionally, employment attorneys negotiate on your behalf. Finally, they also represent you in court. 

How do you prove wrongful termination?

Each class of wrongful termination comes with a set of elements a plaintiff must prove in court. The employee will need to provide evidence that an employment relationship existed. They must show that an employment relationship existed and the employer terminated the employee. Or that the employment was “constructively” terminated. 

For these specific types of termination cases, plaintiffs must prove additional elements.
  • Harassment claims
    • The employee must prove they were fired because they made a complaint against harassment
  • Discrimination Claims
    • The employee must prove membership in a protected class. The discrimination was the motivating factor for their termination
  • Public policy claims
    • First, the employee must prove they were fired for one of the protected reasons according to public policy such as
      • Refusing to break a law or violate a statute
      • Exercising constitutional rights
      • Reporting the violation of a statute or law in order to benefit the public
      • Performing a mandatory or statutory obligation
  • Breach of contract claims
    • The employee must prove they had a contractor with their employer. They most show evidence their termination violated the provisions of that contract. 
    • These claims include those based on a violation of company policies or the terms of a labor union.
    • If your contract states reasons for which you may be fired, your employer can only fire you for those reasons. 

Wrongful Termination Attorney in Texas

Being terminated from your job is never a pleasant experience. But being fired for an unlawful reason adds insult to injury. If you believe your employer fired you for unlawful reasons, you may be able to fight it. Contact an employment attorney at Leichter Law Firm to find out more. You can call us at 512.495.9995 or fill out our contact form. 

Like this article? PLEASE SHARE!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on email

Get in Touch

Office Locations

Austin Office

1602 E 7th St
Austin, TX 78702
Phone: (512) 495-9995
Get Directions

Houston Office

3700 N Main St
Houston, TX 77009
Phone: (713) 714-2446
Get Directions

McAllen Office

214 N 16th St #128
McAllen, TX 78501
Phone: (956) 205-0884
Get Directions