Texas Employment Complex

There are numerous forms of illegal discrimination recognized under Texas employment law.
Not a lot of people are aware of the many forms of illegal discrimination relating to employment law in Texas. Those forms include refusing to hire or promote an individual because of some protected characteristics. The second form is firing that person for those characteristics, otherwise called wrongful termination.

What this boils down to is it’s illegal to discriminate against someone because of their age, race, sex, religion, national origin or because they have a disability. There are a number of other forms of discrimination recognized by Texas courts.

Interestingly, even though Texas state law does not specifically list sexual orientation as an illegal reason to fire a person or decline to hire them, it may be improper under certain circumstances to ask about an applicant’s sexual orientation or ask about their family life. On the other hand there are many personal traits and characteristics that are not protected.

An employer has every right to not hire a person with a criminal record and may also terminate a worker they discover with a record. This should not be confused with being “accused” of a crime. The mere accusation does not make the person guilty, which brings up another point you should know about – it being illegal to ask about arrests or accusations during the initial job interview. They only thing they may ask about are convictions.

Potential employers are also permitted to ask whether or not you need special equipment or accommodations to do your job – for instance a larger screen to see text because your eyesight isn’t very good, or an extra space at a desk for a wheelchair. If your need is not “reasonable,” it may not be discrimination if you are turned down for the position.

In Texas, like most states, workers are considered to be employed “at will.” In other words, the employee can end the employment relationship at any time without prior notice. On the other hand, in most instances, the employer can terminate the employee at any time without notice as long as the reason for termination is not an “illegal reason.”

As with most things pertaining to the law, there are numerous exceptions to the at will employment relationship. One exception is where the employee and employer sign an employment contract that limits either party’s ability to end the employment relationship. For example, the contract might provide a specific time period of employment or that the individual may only be let go for certain reasons.

The important thing about contracts is that the words that are chosen matter and many employment contracts are written differently. That means in order to understand what your rights are under an employment contract, you must be able to understand the legal meaning of the provisions it contains. The best way to do that is to take your contract to a qualified lawyer who can read and understand what it means.

Seth Wilburn writes for the Gomez Law Group, a Dallas employment lawyer and Dallas business lawyer. To learn more, visit Gomezlawyers.com.