When Do Texas Employment Laws Let You Sue Your Employer?

Even though employers have a lot of choice in who they hire and fire, they can’t actually do anything they want. If you’ve faced workplace discrimination or labor law violations, you may have the right to sue your employer.

What is the Texas right to work?

Right-to-work laws prevent employers from refusing you employment if you’re not a member of a union or other labor organization.

If you’re applying for a job that has a labor union, it’s your right to decide if you want to join the union or not. If you’re in a job with a union, you can’t be fired or denied promotions if you don’t want to join the union.

The right-to-work law does not give you other rights to remain in a job. For example, if your employer fires you for no reason at all, your right to work wasn’t violated.

What is Texas at-will employment?

At-will employment means that both the employer and the employee have the right to end their relationship at any time for any reason. In other words, your employer can fire you without notice at any time unless they do so for an illegal reason or are violating a contract that you have.

You can also generally leave a job at any time. Notice periods are a courtesy not a blanket legal requirement. If you signed a contract or have an employee handbook that has penalties for not giving notice, you should ask an attorney if that notice requirement is legally valid.

What is an unlawful termination in Texas?

The most common type of unlawful termination is probably discrimination. Discrimination is when an employer takes negative action against you due to your race, gender, religion, national origin, or other protected classes.

At-will employment does not make discrimination legal. While an employer doesn’t need a reason to fire you, they can’t fire you because of an illegal reason and claim at will. The difficulty in a legal case is proving why you were fired when your employer technically doesn’t have to give you a reason.

Other types of unlawful termination can include retaliation for reporting workplace legal violations, allowing or creating a hostile working environment, wage violations, or breaching an employment contract. Your right to recover will vary based on the situation.

How do you prove an employment law case?

In many employment law cases, you have to prove why your employer fired you. This can often be easier than you’d think since many employers are ignorant of the law and may put an illegal reason in writing.

You may also be able to show that the employer engaged in a specific pattern of conduct or inconsistently with what they previously said about your performance. In discrimination cases, you can also show how you were treated differently than other employees.

Once you begin your lawsuit, you often have the right to discover. This lets your lawyer force your employer to turn over relevant records and answer questions under oath.

What do you do if you can’t afford a lawyer?

If you can’t afford a lawyer, many employment law firms work on a contingency fee basis. Contingency fee means you don’t pay unless you win. If you win, your attorneys receive a portion of the settlement or what you win at trial.

You may also be able to get free assistance from a local law school. You’ll be represented by law students under the supervision of a professor. You can check the university website to see if the law school has an employment law center that may be able to take your case.