The Law of Wrongful Termination in Texas
Wrongful termination is one of the most common claims of employees against employers in Texas. Understanding wrongful termination can be confusing because there is the plain English definition of “wrongful termination” and a legal definition of “wrongful termination.”
When most employees say they are wrongfully terminated, what they really mean is that they were terminated without cause or justification. The employee did not do anything wrong (like misconduct) nor had a business situation occurred (like an economic downturn causing a layoff) to justify the termination.
In some jurisdictions where an employee must be fired “for cause,” a wrongful termination claim exists where an employee was fired without cause. Unfortunately for Texas employees, Texas is not a “for cause” state. Instead, Texas has adopted employment-at-will.
So when a Texas employee claims “wrongful termination” what he or she really means is “illegal termination.” In Texas, for a termination to be illegal, it must violate a law, statute, or regulation. For instance, it would be illegal for an employer to terminate an employee because of race, religion, age or disability discrimination or retaliation. Other examples would include terminating an employee because the employee disclosed she was pregnant, or because the employee made a workplace safety complaint.
In Texas being able to pursue your employer for a claim of wrongful termination generally requires finding a law that makes the employer's conduct illegal. A Dallas employment attorney can advise you whether a wrongful termination is actually illegal, and if so what remedies are available.
What if an Employee was Wrongfully Terminated, but There is No Law Protecting the Employee?
Because Texas has so few employment laws protecting employees, many employees fired without cause have no legal recourse. If there is no law making the employer's conduct illegal, we look to contracts (like offer letters or collective bargaining agreements) or an employer's own in‑house policies.
For example, many hospitals have adopted a policy that allows terminated employees to appeal their termination. The termination appeal is then heard by a panel of three employees. Even though there may be no law making the termination illegal, we may still be able to represent an employee in the internal appeal in an attempt to overturn the termination.
This internal grievance process has also commonly been adopted among government employers, such as school districts and city departments. Texas local government employment appeals generally involve three steps. The first is an informal-type meeting with a supervisor, the second is a hearing with an executive, and the final step is a hearing in front of a governing board (like a school board).
So even if there is no explicit law, there are sometimes contractual, procedural, or internal remedies that would allow an employment lawyer to advocate for reinstatement or monetary relief.
Contact A Dallas Wrongful Termination Lawyer
If you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated by your employer, or that your employer is about to terminate you without cause or justification, please contact a Dallas employment lawyer at the Law Office of Rob Wiley, P.C.