How a Texas Employment Lawyer Can Prosecute Your Employer’s Labor Violations, Or Defend Employers Against Unsupported Labor Claims
Just judging trends in working conditions in the city of Dallas alone, while working conditions quality has overall spiked over the last century, there is an inconvenient truth: Sexual harassment, retaliation unpaid wages and other forms of employer-sponsored abuse against employees is an invisible part of society that does not often come to light.
Texas, as do other states, has protections for employees seeking to assert their civil rights. There are also procedures put in place for employer to be able to cull the claims that have support from unbelievable, unsupported “he-said-, she-said,” the kind that are the result of resentment terminated employees have who are liable to forever bear a grudge.
Learning about how Texas labor and employment law affects the civil rights of employees and employers, determines policy objectives relating to, to name a few, the right to take medical leave, to be accommodated for having a disability, and receive timely payment of wages—makes it easier to adjust to the fast-changing society in which we live.
It is worthwhile to learn more about the various kinds of employment law disputes that arise in Texas under labor and employment laws in Texas below.
What Forms the Bulk of Employment Lawsuits Brought in the State of Texas?
According to the Texas Workforce Commission, the default rule of employment is called “at-will.” In an at-will state, such as Texas, an employee or employer can choose to end the employment relationship for any reason, or no reason at all, whether in Dallas, Houston, Austin, or any city within the state of Texas. Also, a Dallas employer may change and re-classify, re-assign or otherwise modify the working relationship without requiring prior consent by the employee. The two exceptions are if:
- The employment agreement expressly provides for an agreement to the contrary.
- There is a public policy that limits the employer from terminating the employee for the employee’s refusal to commit an illegal act at the request of the employer. Others include:
- State or federal Title VII discrimination statutes protecting discharge based on race, color, religion or gender, or Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) statutes.
- Engaging in “protected activity” that prohibits retaliation against the employee.
- Filing claims reporting illegal working conditions to state and federal authorities.
- Military duty
- Jury duty
- Union activity
Also, workers have a “right to work,” meaning that membership in a union, or non-membership, does not allow the employer to restrict that employee’s ability to be employed. §§101.052-.053 Texas Labor Code
According to Texas Law Help.org, “wrongful termination” is an exception to the at-will doctrine that gives free reign a Dallas employer to make decisions as to continue, modify or end employment without any input of the employee if the following applies to the employer’s decision to terminate the employee:
- Racially-motivated reasons, or those based on, sex, religious preference, ethnicity, national origin, age discrimination, or disability;
- Because you are pregnant;
- Because you will not submit to sexual advances;
- For complaining about your workers’ rights under employment laws such as minimum wage, overtime, medical leave, discrimination, workers’ compensation, hostile work environment, workplace discrimination or safety laws, or other employment laws;
- For taking sick leave, maternity leave, paternity leave, time off to adopt a child, or time off to help take care of a seriously ill close family member (if you are covered by laws that allow time off for this reason);
- For refusing an order to do something illegal;
- For attending jury duty, or because you give testimony at a court or administrative hearing;
- For discussing your working conditions, pay or salary with co-workers, or for asking that coworkers’ terms and conditions of employment be improved;
- For joining or trying to form a union;
- When you have an offer for employment for a certain period of time, or have an employment contract specifying the reasons you can be fired;
- When you work for federal, state, or local government and are fired without the opportunity to dispute the reason for firing; or
- When certain other unlawful circumstances exist.
Unlike most other kinds of civil lawsuits, employees wishing to file a lawsuit for wrongful termination against their employer must first “exhaust their administrative remedies” before filing in Texas state or federal court, Exhaustion of administrative remedies takes place when an employee first files a claim (as opposed to a lawsuit) with the Texas Workforce Commission or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), or National Labor Relations Board within six months, or 180 days of the allegedly unlawful retaliatory or discriminatory act by the employer. Then, the employee should expect an investigation to take place and a “right to sue” letter to issue. Upon the letter being issued, the employee can begin to have a discussion and free consultation with a lawyer on the efficacy of bringing a civil rights suit in Texas.
A board-certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization labor and employment law attorney practicing law in large cities such as Dallas, Texas will be able to persuasively argue for your right to keep your job or be compensated for your termination. An obstacle typically is distinguishing lawful reasons from unlawful reasons for the adverse decision. With the right employment lawyer retained, it is more likely that a client can demonstrate that the applicable legal test has been satisfied to show that the termination was not a legal termination but crossed the line into being “illegal.”
Factors Making a Solid Case, or Exposing a Spurious Claim
According to the Austin-based Ross Law Group, it is not the easiest to establish a claim for wrongful termination given the presumption that the termination was not illegal. However, if the employee can prove the following elements, then the case may be able to be heard in court, and possibly by a jury.
There must be:
- An employee engaging in protected activity (see above categories of protection)
- An employee who has suffered an adverse employment action.
- The employee challenging the termination as unlawful must demonstrate the motivation for the firing as being for an illegitimate reason; then the employer can propose the reason it stated was the basis for the firing; afterward, the employee has an opportunity show that such a reason is not the true reason but a pre-textual one to mask the true nature of the firing.
Harassment claims, either for racial or sexual harassment, often rely on another’s version of events, where credibility is an issue.
When in doubt, a skilled employment law in sprawling metropolises, such as Dallas or Austin, would be a reliable resource to use to be advised on these topics that the employee faces leading up to the termination, shortly after it happens. The employee could then rely on the advice of the Texas attorney to be advised on how to best make out a showing that despite the employer’s reason for the firing, the actual one was for an unlawful reason.
Texas Employment Issues: Common Employment Cases
On the State Bar of Texas’s website, offensive strategies are triggered whenever an employee brings a claim for wrongful discharge. They are:
- Legitimate (and illegitimate) reasons
- False, pretextual explanations
- Lack of documentation
- Bolstering after the fact
- Shifting explanations
- No reason/Vague Reasons
- Not following policies
- Inconsistent treatment
- Other employment discrimination at the company
- Inference of retaliation based on timing of firing
- Disparaging comments revealing the employer’s motivation
Each factor can or may not be appliable in your employment law case, whether you are the employee or employer. For instance, an experienced Dallas-based employment super lawyer will have the know-how to determine the best route to take to bolster a case for unlawful discharge. On the other hand, an employer seeking to defend a discharge decision can use these same factors to prove the contrary claim, namely, that the firing had no illegal motive but was made for a legitimate legal reason.
Legal Advice: Why do I Need to Hire a Texas Employment Lawyer?
As many lawyers in Texas have valuable services to offer at high prices, there are some concerns likely how much a labor and employment attorney is worth as your personal advocate. Based on the nuances of employment law in Texas, deciphering the reasons for an employer’s decision to terminate an employee, complying with administrative procedures and assessing the credibility of a client’s case accurately and competently—are undoubtedly priceless in terms of notwithstanding the incredibly high average rate of Texas employment lawyers and firms, who can charge between reportedly $130 to $450 per hour, per Clio.com’s most up to date statistics.
Based on the skill and the number of years of experience of the Texas employment lawyer handling the organization or other involved party’s case, a client can recover greater amounts if the lawyer stays up to date with the everchanging landscape of not only Texas employment law. In terms of dollars and cents, personal injury related to the employment dispute can open up liability of an employer if the actions are malicious or beyond the bounds of being civilized.
Without an employer having a valued and trusted in or outside counsel as its disposal, you may end up needlessly being exposed to risk and liability for actions that you aren’t responsible for. Or, in the case of the discharged employee, there may be a bleak prospect of being fired and not having any recourse or savings to be able to support him or herself.
Why Should I Hire a Skilled Texas Employment Lawyer?
Given the fast-changing world of businesses, the hundreds and thousands of decisions made to expand and re-organize the business without direct input from every employee in the company, it is important to have a skilled lawyer who can distinguish him or herself from others in the field.
Whereas a many Texas employment law offices may be generally knowledgeable about how to represent a business entity, a particularly skilled and incredibly talented Texas employment attorney will be intimately familiar with the most recent decisions in employment law, ready and willing to use whatever tools at his or her arsenal to prosecute or defend the case.
Many top-rated employment law firms are approved of by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, including Dallas-based employment law firm Rob Wiley, P.C., among others in the Houston, Austin and surrounding areas, offer an initial free consultation to help strategize your best course of action during a time of stress and uncertainty about the future.
For such a Texas law firm competent in Texas employment law, a good law office in Texas will be a specialist will ask you, the client, questions to maximize the value of your case or minimize liability in exploring your legal options—whether you are a relatively inexperienced small business owner, a large corporation with greater assets to protect, or an employee experiencing the termination. Such representation often necessitates employing novel legal arguments and arguments for fundamentally changing the law to benefit you, the client.
In any case, you should be prepared to create a narrative of facts detailing everything that you remembered before, during and after the incident leading up to the dispute, including keeping meticulous records of expenses made during the employment litigation, or in the case of the responsible merchant, the costs to defend.
As a client whether for the organization or another party to a dispute, it is also imperative to share any business malpractice or personal insurance company policy maintained and investigate other potential actors responsible for the wrongful act. Also important is it that your attorney test the strength and validity of the rival claims made against the employer helpful at trial or in arbitration.
Forming an Attorney-Client Relationship: Call a Houston Employment Attorney Today to Discuss Your Case and Odds of Victory for the Company!
Whether defending employee rights, or employer rights against wrongful termination allegations, sexual harassment or unpaid wage and overtime claims, having the right attorney on your side can navigate the vast and ever-changing landscape of Texas employment law and ever evolving case precedent. The attorney-client relationship forms upon consultation when you consider hiring the attorney. Once formed, this relationship helps prepare the client to bring a winning case to receive compensation where there is clearly established liability, including help through severance agreement advocacy, and avoid liability for claims that have no support in fact or law and are mere conjecture and conspiracy. Whether you are looking for a Houston, McKinney, Fort Worth, Dallas or San Antonio-based labor and employment law office handling practice areas pertaining to harassment or discrimination, Lawsuit.org will help you pinpoint the right one by offering a free consultation to obtain the just results that an employee or employer needs.