Texas Wrongful Termination Laws Explained

Given its conservative status and emphasis on the rights of employers, Wrongful Termination laws in Texas remain one of those perennial issues that undergo constant revision. On this page, which we'll update as frequently as the laws change, we'll go through the different ways which is illegal for your employer to fire you and what to do if you have been wrongfully fired by your employer.

Table of Contents

What is Employment At Will?

Texas is what is called an Employment At Will state. What this means is that employers are allowed to terminate their employees for any cause (good or bad) so long as it is not an illegal cause. This simply means that employees working for an employer in the state of Texas are not allowed to sue for lost wages so long as they were not terminated for an illegal reason. This greatly increases the bar required for former employees to seek compensation for their termination.

Other states that are At Will Employment states are Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Pennsylvania, Indianapolis, Virginia, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.

Can You Be Fired For Refusing Vaccine?

We’ll begin with the developing story of whether or not you can be fired for refusing the vaccine. In June of 2021, a federal judge decided to dismiss the Texas case of Bridges v. Houston Methodist hospital. The case garnered widespread public attention as it was the first of its kind in the country. The case began when 177 employees of Houston Methodist Hospital were fired for refusing to take the vaccine.

The case would provoke a flurry of concerns about individual liberties and the extent to which the Government is allowed to intervene in the daily lives of citizens to end the pandemic. As it stands now, not only are you unable to sue for refusing to take the vaccine but you are probably ineligible for any benefits (including unemployment).

In the third special session of 2021, 87(R), a bill that sought to make it illegal for any Texas company (including hospitals) to require vaccines failed as lobbyists and activist groups rose up against it. Though the bill did narrowly make it out of the Senate committee it was assigned to, the State Affairs committee, the bill never made it to a Senate vote.

What Can You Not Be Fired For?

In Texas, there are some black and white reasons that your employer can never give for terminating your employment status. Obviously, your employer most likely knows this to be the case and will look for other reasons to fire you. If you are terminated for one of the following reasons, jump to the subsection below on what to do next. Filing for wrongful termination is time-sensitive (you have between 180 days and 300 days to begin the process) and therefore you must be proactive in seeking damages.

Being Married (or single)

While your employer is allowed to ask whether you are married or single, they are not allowed to hold your marital status against you when it comes to being terminated. There is a long history of women being fired for being married or men being held in suspicion for being bachelors, however, this one is fairly straightforward.

Pregnancy

No, you cannot be fired for being pregnant or having a newborn in the office. Federal laws governing maternity leave maintain that you cannot be fired for your pregnancy. However, maternity leave only guarantees 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave after the child is born. This essentially means that you can take 12 weeks off and, though your employer does not have to pay you during this time they also are not allowed to fire you. A full piece article will be needed to cover all the nuances of this area, however, to qualify for maternity leave, you must have worked at the company for a certain period of time and fulfill other obligations to qualify.

Health

Whether or in Texas or not, you can never be fired for health issues or genetic information for that matter. You can, however, be put on leave if you have a health condition that makes it impossible for your to fulfill your current role.

Your Religion

Being one of the most religious states in the country, Texas makes it clear that you cannot be fired for your religious status.

Skin Color

Another obvious one, your employer is not allowed to terminate you for the color of your skin.

Nationality (not citizenship)

This one is a little tricky. On one hand, it is illegal for your employer to fire you because of your nationality (for instance if they reveal a bias against Italians), however, that doesn’t mean non-citizens have a right to employment or to keep their employment if their employer becomes aware of their legal status.

Military affiliation or status

As we’ve discussed on almost every page, Texas takes the rights of former and current military members very seriously. If you feel you were terminated because of your military status or affiliation, you are entitled to seek damages from your employer.

Gender Identity

The state’s new critical race bill might make one surprised at this realization, however, it is illegal to fire someone in the state of Texas for how they identify their gender.

Fired for Your Age

In Texas, someone cannot be fired because they are over the age of 40. This is a familiar form of discrimination where employers attempt to fire more senior members of the working staff in order to hire younger, cheaper employees.

However just because you are over the age of 40 when you were fired that doesn’t mean that you were fired unlawfully. In order to seek damages from your employer, you need to be able to show that you were fired because of your age.

What To Do If You’ve Been Unlawfully Terminated

As we’ve stated many times, we are not a law firm however there are certain steps one must take if they believe they have been fired unlawfully. Prior to suing their employer for benefits, one who has been fired unlawfully must file a complaint, called an administrative complaint, with a government entity. If the complaint at this stage is found to be in violation, one may proceed with a lawsuit against their former employer.

Statue of Limitations

Very important to making sure your wrongful termination suit is successful is filing your complaint, and subsequent lawsuit, within the timeline mandated by the legal code. For most cases, you have 180 days from the time that you were terminated to file the initial complaint.

Filing the Lawsuit

From here you’re going to want to hire the services of an attorney that specializes in wrongful termination and begin the process of filing a lawsuit. You have two years from this point to file the lawsuit against your employer. If you’re not sure whether your case is worth pursuing or not, we strongly suggest getting a free consultation from a local attorney to see if the process is going to be worth it.