Texas Recognizes "At Will" Employment
At-will employment is a type of employment relationship where the employee may be terminated at any time for any lawful reason, without "just cause" and without notice.
There are some important exceptions to the at-will employment rule. For instance, an individual can never be fired based on:
- National origin
- Emergency evacuation
- Military service, in the event of an emergency
This list is non-exhaustive, and in addition to these general categories, there are several other specific grounds an employer cannot use as the basis of termination.
Texas Wage and Hour Laws
Texas wage and hour laws covers the minimum of what every worker is entitled to, when workers must be paid, and when more or less money is legally due.
1. Minimum Wage: Currently, the minimum wage in Texas is $7.25. This puts Texas directly on par with the federal minimum wage.
It is worth mention that minimum wage may also vary based on several factors, such as the whether or not the employee worked for tips or is counting lodging towards their wage. In these instances, minimum wage may be lower. However, most employees will earn at least $7.25 an hour.
2. Overtime: One exception to the minimum wage is overtime. Texas does not have specific laws governing overtime, and thus, is bound by federal law. Overtime is when an employee works 40 or more hours in any one week. The employer must pay the employee at least 1 1⁄2 times the regular rate of pay for any hour worked over 40.
3. Withheld Wages: Texas follows the Fair Labor Standards act, which requires that wages be paid in full within 6 days of being laid off, or the next business day if the worker quits. Moreover, an employer cannot withhold payment of full wages or deduct from wages, with the exception of taxes, court orders, and other voluntary agreements.
Additionally, employers cannot make deductions for damages or lost equipment, uniforms, or other property that is in question, such as cash register shortages.
Legal Protections from Harassment and Discrimination
Pursuant to federal law, every state offers some protection from discrimination and sexual harassment based on federal law. Texas’s protections include a freedom from:
- Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is defined as any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature at the workplace.
- Discrimination: Protected classes include every class listed in the "at-will" section.
Do I Need an Employment Lawyer?
If your rights have been violated as an employee, you should contact an employment attorney immediately. An employment attorney will be able to assess your case under Texas’s employment laws.