Discrimination, retaliation, and whistleblowing are among the main types of employment disputes. However, there are also other employment issues that may have substantial consequences for your relationship with your employer. These issues include background checks, non-compete agreements, wrongful termination, and at-will employment. At Rob Wiley, P.C., our experienced Dallas employment lawyers can advise and represent you with regard to employment law issues.Background Checks
Federal and state laws permit employers to conduct background checks. Even so, an employer needs to comply with federal and state laws that prohibit discrimination based on protected characteristics, such as national origin, color, race, religion, disability, and sex. If the information from the check is going to be used to decide whether to hire someone, the employer should conduct background checks on all of the candidates. If an employer uses a business that compiles these reports, it is supposed to tell the job applicant that it will use the information to make a hiring decision.
Texas law requires employers to only perform background checks into your criminal history that go seven years back if the job pays less than $75,000. If the job pays more than $75,000, employers may check the applicant’s criminal background since the age of 18. Your employer can conduct a credit history check as long as you have consented to it.Non-Compete Agreements
Employment issues also can arise in connection with non-compete agreements. These are also known as restrictive covenants. In Texas, they are enforced only if they satisfy state law requirements. Non-compete agreements in Texas need to be ancillary to another enforceable agreement, guard a valid business interest, be reasonably limited in the scope of the activity to be restricted, be reasonably limited in terms of geography, and have reasonable time constraints. Generally, a court will find a valid business interest if an employer is trying to protect its proprietary information, such as trade secrets.Wrongful Termination
Texas is an at-will employment state. You can be terminated for no reason or any reason, with the exception that you cannot be terminated in violation of a law. In order to recover damages for a wrongful termination, you likely will need to show that your termination was illegal because the employer violated a statute or regulation. For example, you may have been wrongfully terminated if you were terminated because you are disabled. You may also have a wrongful termination claim if you were fired in violation of your employment contract. For example, if you are terminated for no reason, and your contract specified that you could be fired only for just cause or under certain conditions after a particular date, you may have a wrongful termination claim.Constructive Discharge
Usually, you can recover damages for wrongful termination based on discrimination or retaliation only if your employer has caused the termination. However, there are situations in which an employee is considered to be constructively discharged. A constructive discharge happens if an employer caused a termination even though the employee appeared to have resigned. It applies when a workplace turns so hostile or intolerable that the employee feels compelled to resign. When trying to figure out whether it was reasonable for the employee to resign, such that it should be treated as a constructive discharge rather than a voluntary resignation, the court will look at factors such as whether there was a reassignment to degrading work, a reassignment to work under a younger supervisor, harassment calculated to provoke a resignation, a demotion, a salary reduction, a reduction in job responsibilities, or an offer of severance. Before you quit your job, you should talk to an experienced employment lawyer.Employment at Will
At-will employment in Texas means that you can be terminated for no reason, or for an arbitrary reason, and at any time. In order to get around the at-will doctrine for the purpose of bringing a wrongful termination lawsuit, your attorney will need to identify the employer’s legal violation or contract violation. It is unlawful for your employer to fire you in violation of anti-discrimination laws, for example. Similarly, you cannot be terminated for reporting minimum wage or overtime violations, for complaining about workplace safety and OSHA violations, or for trying to organize a union.Discuss Your Options with an Experienced Dallas Attorney
If you want to know more about your rights related to employment issues, it is important to discuss your situation with a skillful attorney. The attorneys at Rob Wiley, P.C. represent people in Dallas, Collin, Denton, Tarrant, Rockwall, and Ellis Counties. Call us at (214) 528-6500 or complete our online form.