In Texas, most employees are employed at will. This means that workers can quit at any time that they want. Their employers can also fire them at any time and for nearly any reason. However, there are certain times when firing an employee is considered to be unlawful, depending on the reasons and the circumstances surrounding the termination.
Wrongful termination occurs when an employee is fired for an illegal reason or in violation of a contract or public policy. A common type of wrongful termination occurs when an employee is fired because of a discriminatory reason based on the employee’s protected characteristics, including race, color, gender, pregnancy status, disability, age, or national origin. If an employer fires an employee for a discriminatory reason, the termination will be considered to be wrongful.
Retaliatory discharge is another type of wrongful termination. This occurs when an employer fires an employee who exercised his or her rights or engaged in a protected activity. For example, employers may not retaliate against workers for reporting safety violations to OSHA, taking FMLA leave, whistleblowing, filing discrimination complaints, performing military service, or serving on a jury.
While most terminations are lawful, employers sometimes fire employees for unlawful reasons. People who believe that their employers wrongfully terminated them might benefit from consulting with experienced employment law attorneys. The lawyers may analyze what happened and provide honest assessments of the merits of the claims. If the attorneys believe that a claim is valid, they might assist their clients in gathering documents and other evidence and help them to file wrongful termination claims. Through a wrongful termination lawsuit, employees might recover damages to compensate them for their losses.