Were you recently fired or laid off from your job? Perhaps you feel like you were wrongfully terminated. An employer’s decision to terminate an employee’s employment is only “wrongful” in the legal sense if it violates a state or federal law.
Wrongful Termination Laws
Texas is an “at will” employment state, which means that an employer can fire an employee for any lawful reason or for no reason at all. That said, state and federal laws prohibit employers from terminating an employee because of his or her race, national origin, age, sex, disability, or membership to some other protected class of people. State and federal laws also prohibit employers from firing an employee in retaliation for reporting their employer’s unlawful conduct to an appropriate governmental agency.
Proving Your Wrongful Termination Claim
Proving a wrongful termination claim can be difficult. Employers rarely admit to harboring an illegal motive for firing someone, as doing so would expose them to liability. Instead, most employers will come up with a seemingly legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for terminating an employee in an effort to hide their true (unlawful) reason for doing so. An attorney can help you determine whether this might be the case and what types of evidence you may need to hold your former employer accountable in a court of law.
The Pre-Lawsuit Administrative Process
The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) oversee the administration of federal and state employment discrimination and retaliation laws.
In most cases, an employee who believes that they have been wrongfully terminated must “exhaust” the remedies available to them at the administrative level before filing a lawsuit against their former employer. Judges and lawyers often refer to this requirement as “exhaustion of administrative remedies.”
Navigating the administrative process can be challenging for someone who has never done it before. Title VII, for example, imposes short, strict deadlines by which claimants must file their EEOC complaint or risk losing their right to bring a wrongful termination claim altogether.
When to Contact a Wrongful Termination Lawyer
If you believe that you may have a wrongful termination lawsuit against your former employer, contact the Wagoner Law Firm to receive a free case evaluation from a knowledgeable and experienced employment lawyer.