Plano Employment Attorney: Defending Employers Facing Wrongful Termination Lawsuits
Employers can legally terminate an at-will employment relationship at any time, with or without notice or cause. Employees in Texas are presumed to be at-will employees, unless there is an employment contract in place that specifically states otherwise and, typically, defines “cause” or “good reason” or other circumstances by which employment terminates. Regardless, no employee may be terminated because they are a member of a legally protected class or participated in activities protected by law.
If your business has been notified of a lawsuit being brought against you for wrongful termination, or if you are worried that an employee you plan to terminate could bring a case against you, you need immediate legal help.
Plano employment attorney Laura Calhoun represents businesses facing legal challenges after firing an employee for just cause, or under the employment at-will doctrine. Contact the Frisco law office of Albin Roach to schedule a consultation: 214-430-4440.
Protected Class and Public Policy Exceptions to At-Will Termination
Federal and state statutes prohibit harassment and discrimination (including termination of employment) of an employee on the basis of their status in a protected class, which includes:
- Race, color or national origin
- Pregnancy status
- Age (40 or older)
- Disability or genetic information
State and federal law further bar employers from retaliating against or terminating employees for participating in protected activities such as:
- Filing a complaint alleging sexual harassment
- Filing a workers’ compensation claim
- Refusing to commit an illegal act
- Reporting an illegal act (whistle-blowing)
- Taking medical or family leave authorized under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
The Legal Risks of Retaliation
If an employee has made an internal report to the company or filed a charge of discrimination or retaliation with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or Texas Workforce Commission, your next step as an employer is a crucial one. You have a duty to investigate and take prompt remedial action as may be necessary. You are also prohibited by law from retaliating against the complaining employee.
If you have a legitimate, non-discriminatory and non-retaliatory business reason to discipline or terminate an employee who has reported or filed a charge of discrimination, you should first get legal advice. Do not take any action that could be construed as retaliation. Until you have consulted an employment attorney, do not fire the employee, cut their work hours, switch them to a different work shift, reduce their pay or take other adverse action that could provide fodder for a lawsuit. Talk with an Albin Roach employment lawyer about actions you can take to legally address any performance or other job-related concerns with such an employee.
Protections for Businesses Under Employment Contract
An employment contract is a valuable tool for recruiting and maintaining highly qualified, professional staff. It can also protect your business should an employee fail to meet expectations.
Our North Texas employment lawyers draft employment contracts that include clear and understandable language defining work goals, workplace standards, requirements for non-disclosure of private information and expectations of behavior.
Should you need to fire an employee who has signed an employment contract, we offer advice on remaining in compliance with your contract terms and can help you collect documentation to prove cause for termination.