Texas Employment Law Attorney Assisting Employees in Austin
Employees in Austin, Texas can lose their jobs for a variety of different reasons, and in many cases, the employer does not necessarily have to provide the employee or worker with an explanation for the termination. However, depending upon the specific circumstances of an employee’s situation, an Austin employer may terminate the employee for reasons that are unlawful. In some cases, the employee might have an employment contract that prohibits the employer from terminating the position without cause, for example. Yet for many Austin, Texas workers, the Texas employment-at-will doctrine governs their employment, and a wrongful termination can only occur if the employer has violated federal or state law in some fashion.
If you were recently fired from your job and you believe your employer terminated you unlawfully, you should seek representation from an aggressive Austin wrongful termination lawyer as soon as possible.
What is Wrongful Termination in Austin?
Wrongful termination in Austin refers to any type of termination from employment that violates state or federal law. If you have an employment contract, your contract likely stipulates or clarifies situations in which you can be lawfully terminated from your position. For other workers, Texas is an employment-at-will state.
However, whether you have an employment contract or you are an at-will employee, you cannot be fired for any discriminatory reasons that have protections under state or federal law, and you cannot be terminated in retaliation for your decision to exercise your rights under state or federal law. We will say more about unlawful reasons for termination below.
How Does Texas At-Will Employment Law Affect a Wrongful Termination Case?
What does it mean to work in an employment-at-will state? According to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), “absent an express agreement to the contrary, either party in an employment relationship may end the relationship or change the terms and conditions of employment at any time for any reason, or even for no particular reason at all, with or without notice.”
However, there are a number of exceptions to this doctrine, which arise out of federal and state laws as well as court decisions in Texas. Those exceptions, according to the TWC, include terminating an employee for any of the following reasons:
- A person’s protected status or class under a state or federal employment discrimination law (or perceived status), including a person’s race, color, religion, gender, age, national origin, disability, or citizenship (and in some cases sexual orientation);
- Engagement in protected activity under state or federal law;
- Whistleblowing, or reporting unlawful activities at work under state or federal whistleblowing laws;
- Filing a workplace claim (such as an OSHA safety claim, a wage and hour claim under the FLSA, or an employment discrimination claim under state or federal law);
- Participation in military duty;
- Participation in required jury duty;
- Engaging in union activity; or
- Refusing to commit a criminal act.
In addition, an employer may not terminate employees have a job injury, report a job injury or workers compensation claim, or otherwise hire an attorney for the claim. This would be considered a retaliation and discrimination claim and is prohibited by Texas law.
There are a wide variety of state and federal laws that protect employees against discrimination. Sometimes discrimination can be on the basis of race, sex, religion, disability, or another protected category. Yet it is also important to understand that employees who agree to participate in discrimination investigations at a workplace—regardless of whether they are the targeted employee—are protected against retaliation for doing so under state or federal law.
Remedies for Wrongful Termination in Austin, TX
If you can prove that you were fired from your job for an unlawful reason, you could be eligible to receive a variety of remedies under federal or Texas law. Generally speaking, a wrongfully terminated employee may be able to seek the following remedies with help from an experienced Austin employment law attorney:
- Reinstatement to the job;
- Back pay;
- Future pay;
- Promotion after reinstatement;
- Punitive damages, which are designed to punish the employer for particularly bad conduct;
- Attorney’s fees and court costs; and/or
- Injunction against the employer to prevent any future wrongful actions under federal or state employment law.
Contact an Austin Wrongful Termination Attorney Today
If you believe you were terminated from your job for reasons that are unlawful, you could be eligible to file a claim and to seek a remedy. An experienced wrongful termination lawyer in Austin, Texas can assess your case today and can determine whether your termination violated state or federal law. Depending upon the reasons for your termination, you may be able to file a claim under federal or state law.
If you believe you have a potential wrongful termination claim that could be filed under either federal or state law, our Board Certified Labor and Employment lawyer can provide a free case evaluation to assess your potential case. Contact the Law Office of Jeffrey A. Goldberg for more information about the services we provide to employees and executives in Texas.