Were you fired without warning? Is there no valid reason for your termination? Did your employer set you up to be fired with impossible quotas? Is the reason for your termination a lie? Were you singled out because of you race, gender, religion, disability, age, pregnancy, or other trait? Is the real reason for your termination retaliation?
Houston employment lawyers Kalandra Wheeler, Robert J. Wiley, and Julie St. John represent workers who have been wrongfully terminated.
Texas is a terrible state for employees. Our conservative legislature goes out of its way to prevent workers from taking legal action against their employers. If you watch the news, you know that Texas politicians favor business interests over workers’ rights, and favor management over unions.
Whether or not a fired employee has a case is a difficult question in Texas. Because Texas has a doctrine called “employment-at-will,” employees can be fired for any reason or no reason whatsoever. We get around employment-at-will by finding laws, especially federal laws, that preempt employment-at-will.
For example, a worker can be fired for any reason. But a worker cannot be fired for having diabetes because of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. Similar laws protect workers from termination based on age, race, national origin, gender, religion, pregnancy, disability, or military service. Despite the defeat of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), there are federal protections against discrimination based on gender stereotypes which often protect gay, lesbian, and transgender employees. Do not assume sexual orientation and gender identity are valid grounds for termination because HERO was defeated.
Narrow laws also protect workers from specific scenarios. For example, a nurse cannot be fired for making a complaint to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Similarly, a worker cannot be fired for filing for workers’ compensation. Because we only practice employment law, we are familiar with the myriad of small laws protecting Houston workers from wrongful termination.
Contract law can also provide grounds for wrongful termination. Sometimes a contract can be an offer letter. Sometimes a contract comes in the form of a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) through a union. Contracts can create “employment-for-cause” or “employment-for-term” which are different from employment-at-will.
Finally, unemployment benefits administered by the Texas Workforce Commission operate separately from “employment-at-will.” Unemployment benefits can only be denied if a worker (1) quits without good cause, or (2) is fired for misconduct related to the work. Therefore, an employee should receive unemployment benefits if he or she is wrongfully terminated.
Because wrongful termination is a complicated legal doctrine in conservative Texas, it is important that you contact an attorney if you have been terminated or believe your employer is trying to get rid of you. When you contact us, we will schedule an appointment at our Galleria-area office where you will meet with an attorney. We will discuss the pros and cons of your case. If you decide to hire us, we usually begin by contacting your employer, building the evidence to support your claim, and preparing for litigation.
It is important that you contact us as soon as possible. Many laws have a very short time period to take action. For example, Texas laws concerning discrimination may have a deadline as short as 180 days. Workplace safety whistleblower claims may be as short as thirty days.
TWC unemployment deadlines are insanely short. For example, if you are initially denied unemployment you only have fourteen days from the date the denial is mailed to file an appeal. Because theses notices are mailed from Austin, a denial mailed on Thursday may not reach you until Monday – almost half of your appeal time has already expired.
If you have been wrongfully terminated, or anticipate that you are about to be wrongfully terminated, please contact us right away.