At-will employment

Texas is an at-will employment state. This means your employer may terminate you for a good reason, bad reason, no reason at all, and even for an unethical reason. However, your employer may not terminate you for an illegal reason.

What are illegal reasons to terminate an employee?

Some illegal reasons, which are exceptions to employment at-will, to terminate an employee include:

  • Discrimination, including
    • Age discrimination;
    • Sex discrimination;
    • Disability discrimination;
    • Race discrimination;
    • National origin discrimination;
    • Disability discrimination;
    • Religious discrimination;
    • Pregnancy Discrimination; and
    • Military service discrimination.

  • Taking FMLA leave or leave under the Americans with disabilities act;
  • Refusing to commit illegal acts;
  • Engaging in union activities or other organized labor activities;

  • Retaliation, including retaliation for:
    • Complaining about discrimination;
    • Complaining about improperly paid wages or unpaid wages;
    • Availing yourself to the use of legal protections for employees;

  • Whistleblowing, including
    • Whistleblowers who work for the State of Texas or its entities (i.e. school districts);
    • Whistleblowers under federal laws such as Sarbanes-Oxley

Why does my employer not need a reason to terminate me?

Texas has made a political choice to allow companies to operate with minimal government interference in employment decisions. As such, employers who terminate employees for unethical or bad reasons, which happen not to be illegal, will suffer the consequences of market forces for terminating well-performing employees.

Was I terminated at-will?

Employment laws are multifaceted and complicated. The above listed illegal reasons are merely demonstrative and non-exhaustive. If you think you fall into an exception to at-will employment, contact me your Texas Employment lawyer to schedule a consultation