Houston Wrongful Termination Lawyer
Also referred to as wrongful dismissal or wrongful discharge, wrongful termination includes instances in which an employer fires a worker for an unlawful reason. This can include a violation of employment law or the employee’s contract. Even if there was not a formal contract signed upon accepting employment, the termination of the employee may still violate the de facto contract that is assumed between every employer and employee.
Certain termination situations are explicitly forbidden based on Federal employment law. These can include:
- Retaliation: An employee cannot be terminated based on that employee’s actions against situations such as discrimination, unsafe practices, harassment or other unlawful circumstances at the workplace. These workers are protected under Whistleblower laws.
- Discrimination: Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, an employee cannot be fired based on race, national origin, ethnicity, gender, age, pregnancy, or other factors.
- Illegal Activity: If an employee refuses to commit an illegal act, such as knowingly defrauding a customer, the employee cannot be terminated based on their refusal to break the law.
In the event an employee handbook or previously signed contract outlines termination procedures, such as disciplinary steps that must first be taken, the employer cannot violate these established procedures.
In addition, some terminations can be considered a violation of public policy. This means the employee was terminated for reasons generally regarded as illegitimate. These often are seen as penalizing a worker for performing a public duty. These can include terminating an employee for:
- Serving jury duty
- Taking time off work to vote
- Serving in the military
- Filing a claim, such as a worker’s compensation claim
Even in an “at will” employment state where an employer can terminate an employee at any time without notice, employers cannot violate the protections afforded to workers by law, such as anti-discrimination legislation. If you believe you were wrongfully terminated, contact the Houston Employment Lawyers of the Powers Law Firm to discuss your options.