No one likes being fired, and most employers would rather not terminate an employee. Terminating an employee is typically an unpleasant experience for both the employee and the employer. The employee must look for a new job, while the employer is left with the necessity of finding and training a new employee to fill the resulting vacancy.
Sometimes, though, employers must terminate certain employees. In Texas, the state’s at-will employment law generally means that an employee can be terminated at any time without warning and for no reason. Nevertheless, an employer’s ability to fire an employee at any time and in any manner they choose is not absolute.
If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having been terminated, do not fall into the trap of believing that you do not have rights. Even in an at-will employment state like Texas, your employer cannot act unlawfully toward you when terminating your employment.
Ask yourself the following questions to help you determine whether your rights were violated:
If you believe your employer made an explicit or implicit promise to you during the course of your employment that suggested you would not be terminated absent cause, then your employer might be bound by this agreement.
For instance, suppose that during onboarding, your recruiter or supervisor says something to the effect of, “Don’t worry, you won’t lose your job here unless you mess up really badly,” this could be considered a promise not to terminate you without cause.
In this case, if your employer could not provide you with a satisfactory reason as to why and how you erred, your termination may be unlawful. A Houston employment law attorney can help you determine if your employer set a reasonable expectation that you would not be fired and help you decide what steps to take next.
Employees cannot be terminated for a discriminatory reason, the state’s at-will employment law notwithstanding. If your employer ended your employment because of your race, ethnicity, religion, sex, or any other protected classification, your termination may be unlawful, and you may have legal recourse against your employer.
It may not be immediately apparent if your termination was due to discriminatory intent, however. The employment law attorneys at Armstrong & Associates may need to delve beneath the surface of the reason for your termination to see if discrimination was at play.
For example, suppose that your employer tells you that you are being let go because you were late to work too many times within the last six months. If you know that other employees were late as many, if not more, times as you within the same time period, and yet they are not being disciplined, discrimination may be to blame.
This is even more true if the other employees and you are of different races, sexes, or ethnicities.
If you have hours that you worked but haven’t been paid for at the time you were fired, your employer must still pay you for that time. Your employer can violate the state’s wage laws by withholding pay from you, even after you have been terminated.
Your employer does not need to pay you on the spot at the time of your termination. Instead, you should receive a final paycheck on the regular pay date to which you were accustomed while working for your employer. If you do not, you may have a cause of action against your employer.
Your remedies for a termination that does not conform to the law will vary depending on the irregularity. In some cases, the court will order your former employer to pay you monetary damages. In other cases, you may be entitled to reinstatement at your previous position and with your previous rate of pay.
When Should I Contact An Employment Attorney?
No matter the situation, it is essential to act quickly. Any rights you would otherwise have can be forfeited by the passage of time if you do not take appropriate action within the state’s statute of limitations. Call Jacqueline Armstrong today at (713) 960-6646 to set up your initial consultation. Jackie and her team of exceptional attorneys are ready to help.