Texas Employment Lawyers

Texas employment lawyers represent workers in claims arising from federal and state labor and employment law. Your job is the financial support for you and your family. When your employer messes with your job, your pay, or your right to work in a fair environment, it can have wide ranging effects on your life. Employment lawyers sue employers for claims such as employment discrimination, retaliation, violations of benefit laws, unpaid wages and overtime pay, sexual harassment and wrongful termination. Learn more about your rights under federal and Texas labor and employment laws and how employment lawyers can help protect your rights. 

Employment lawyers in Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio and other parts of Texas represent employees in these claims in many venues. Labor and employment laws are complex with technical requirements you must meet to pursue your claims. If you do not follow these requirements closely, you may lose the right to pursue your labor law or employment law claim. These requirements include pursuing claims in specific venues. Your cannot always immediately file a lawsuit. Your employment attorney may first have to file a complaint with a specific governmental agency, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). Following the correct process is a necessary part of protecting your labor law and employment law rights. An experienced employment lawyer will make sure the right process is followed to protect your rights. 

Labor and Employment Laws

Employment laws protect your right to work free from certain forms of discrimination at work.

You have the right to go to work without harassment or a hostile work environment.

Your employer cannot retaliate against you for speaking up for your rights and opposing illegal employment acts.

Wage laws protect your right to receive your pay and benefits at work.

Most employees have the right to take family leave and medical leave under the FMLA.

Non-exempt employees also have the right to receive overtime pay for hours worked over forty in a workweek.

You have the right to vote for and join a union in the workplace. 

If you were unlawfully fired, you may have a claim for wrongful termination against your employer.

If you are hurt on the job, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

Employment Discrimination

Texas employees have the right to apply for and work free from certain forms of employment discrimination. When employers discriminate against employees and applicants, they violate federal and Texas employment laws. Under these employment laws you have the right to pursue claims against the employer. Prohibited forms of employment discrimination include:

If your employer or an employer you applied to work for discriminate on the basis of one of these protected classes, you have a claim for unlawful employment discrimination. Employment lawyers routinely represent clients in job discrimination claims. Employment discrimination claims are particularly complex employment law claims. Federal and Texas employment discrimination laws require specific types of evidence and set a high bar for workers to prove their cases.

Additionally, most anti-discrimination laws require you to follow a complicated procedure before you can file a lawsuit. Your case may have to begin with a charge of discrimination to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or Texas Workforce Commission. Whether to file with the EEOC or the state agency is a tactical question for your employment lawyer. The answer is not always the same across states. For example, Texas employment lawyers may make different decisions from employment lawyers in Colorado. If you do not file the charge of discrimination in the right way by a short deadline, you will lose the right to pursue your case entirely. Experienced employment lawyers in Texas know how to navigate these troubled waters and pursue your case for the justice you deserve.

Employment discrimination claims include claims such as firing or not hiring somebody because they belong to a protected class. They also include pay differences, refusal to train or promote, sexual harassment and other forms of hostile work environments, retaliation for opposing unlawful discrimination and failure to accommodate a disability or religious practice. If you believe you suffered unlawful employment discrimination at work, you should contact Texas employment lawyers near you right away.

Harassment/Hostile Work Environment

Federal and Texas employment laws prohibit employers from harassing you or creating a hostile work environment when the basis of the harassment is unlawful. Most employment laws prohibit employers from harassing you for exercising a right protected by that law or, in the case of employment discrimination laws, prohibits harassment on the basis of a protected class.

Like employment discrimination claims, harassment claims are very technical legal claims. In many cases you must follow specific procedures to pursue your claim. Harassment as a form of employment discrimination, often requires the same procedure as other discrimination cases. The legal standard for harassment claims is also very specific about the conduct. Under the legal definition of harassment, the offensive conduct must be severe or pervasive in the workplace. There is often a long legal and factual battle in harassment claims over whether the offensive acts meet the legal standard. 

Harassment may arise over more than just employment discrimination. Other common harassment claims in Texas include:

  • Sexual harassment claims where your boss tries to trade sexual favors for a job benefit or to avoid a negative consequence;
  • Creating a hostile work environment because you exercised rights to leave under FMLA;
  • Harassing you in retaliation for complaining about discrimination or unpaid wages;
  • Filing a complaint with a government agency for unpaid wages or other unlawful employment conduct;
  • Harassing you for filing a workers’ compensation claim.

If you believe your employer created a hostile work environment, you should contact Texas employment lawyers right away. Often the purpose of harassment is to force you to quit or perform poorly so they can fire you. Your employment lawyer will discuss whether your situation meets the legal definition of harassment and what steps you need to take now to protect your job and your case. Waiting to speak with an employment lawyer may risk your situation becoming worse before you have an opportunity to intervene and resolve the problem. Your harassment case may also require you to take legal action in a short period of time, so your employment lawyer may need to act quickly to protect your case. 

Retaliation

Texas employment lawyers also represent workers in retaliation claims. Labor and employment laws prohibit employers from retaliating against you for exercising a protected legal right. Retaliation claims are becoming increasingly common and in many cases they are easier to prove than other employment law claims. Unlawful retaliation occurs when the employer takes a negative employment action in response to your exercise of a protected employment right. Retaliation may arise because you requested FMLA or other rights protected by employment laws. Retaliation can also occur because you complained internally or externally about an unlawful employment act like failing to pay overtime or discrimination in the workplace. 

Employers retaliate by taking adverse employment actions against you and your job. Common retaliatory acts include:

  • termination
  • demotion
  • pay cuts
  • changing job assignments
  • creating a hostile work environment
  • refusing to train you
  • denying a promotion
  • giving other employers a negative job reference

You may have a retaliation claim in addition to other claims involving the protected right or protected class that formed the basis for retaliation. Like other employment law claims, you may have to follow specific procedures before you can file a lawsuit. Your employment lawyer can review your situation and determine what steps are necessary to pursue your case. You may need to act quickly to pursue a retaliation case so contact an employment attorney right away. 

Wrongful Termination in Texas

Wrongful termination occurs when your employer fires you unlawfully in violation of a labor law or employment law. Many people misunderstand that labor and employment laws do not prohibit your employer from firing you for a bad reason or no reason. The legal definition of wrongful termination is more specific than the common language use of that term. A wrongful termination claim requires your employer to fire you for a reason specifically prohibited by law. In Texas, wrongful termination claims often relate to firing you as a form of employment discrimination or as retaliation for exercising a protected right. 

If you believe your employer fired you unlawfully, you should talk to employment lawyers right away. Your employment lawyer can investigate your case and determine whether you have a wrongful discharge claim. Sometimes employers give bad but not illegal reasons for firing you and an unlawful motive was the actual reason you were fired. Your employment lawyer can assess your situation and determine whether there is a case to pursue. 

Wage Law Claims

Texas employment lawyers also represent employees in claims involving wage laws. Under federal and Texas employment laws you have the right to be paid for your work. These laws define the minimum wages, method of paying wages and timing of those payments. Employers violate these statutes intentionally or unintentionally; however, your right to receive your full compensation on time is not dependent on whether the employer intended to steal from you. An employer’s intentional wage theft can add additional money damages to an unpaid wage claim; however, you can pursue an unpaid wage claim even if the wage theft resulted from an unintentional error by your employer. If you did the work, you get the pay. It is that simple. If you believe your employer failed to pay all of your wages, bonuses, or commissions, you should contact Texas employment lawyers right away. 

Minimum Wage

Minimum wage violations are surprisingly common in Texas. Under federal and Texas employment law, employees must receive a minimum of $7.25 for each hour worked. If your employer fails to pay minimum wage for each hour worked, you have an unpaid wage claim against your employer. You should contact a Texas employment lawyer right away. Employers may fail to pay minimum wage to their employees in a variety of ways including:

  • Shaving time off your time card so you do not receive pay for all of your work time;
  • Misclassifying you as an independent contractor so they do not have to pay you minimum wage;
  • Requiring you to work off the clock;
  • Not paying for travel time or time waiting to work;
  • Illegal tip pooling schemes that reduce tipped employees’ wages below minimum wage;
  • Taking tip credits on employees who do not regularly receive tips or do not make enough in tips to permit the tip credit;
  • Impermissibly docking wages for discipline or requiring employees to buy supplies for the business.

If you believe your employer did not pay you minimum wage for all of your work time, you should schedule a consultation with a Texas employment lawyer. Your employment lawyer can review your pay records and investigate your claim. If you were paid less than minimum wage, you can recover your unpaid wages, attorney’s fees and other money from your employer. 

Overtime Pay

Similarly, your employer must pay you 1.5 times your regular rate of pay for each hour worked in a workweek over forty hours unless you are exempt from overtime pay. Overtime pay can make a big difference in your paycheck–unless your employer steals your overtime pay. If you work more than forty hours in a workweek you are entitled to overtime pay unless you meet a specific exemption. It is not sufficient for your employer to just tell you that you do not receive overtime pay. Often employers incorrectly refuse to pay overtime or intentionally misclassify you to avoid overtime pay. Common ways employers illegally avoid overtime pay include:

  • Misclassifying you as salaried and overtime exempt;
  • Misclassifying you as an independent contractor instead of an employee;
  • Classifying you correctly as overtime exempt but treating you like an hourly employee and destroying the overtime exemption;
  • Shifting hours from one week to the next to avoid overtime pay on a workweek;
  • Requiring you to work hours off the clock;
  • Incorrectly calculating your regular rate of pay to reduce your overtime pay rate.

If you believe you should receive overtime pay or you are not receiving all of the overtime pay you should, talk to an employment lawyer. Overtime pay claims require investigating your pay records to determine how much you have in an unpaid wage claim. Your employer likely refuses to pay overtime to more than just you, so there may be a class action with you and your coworkers for your employment lawyer to investigate. Your employment lawyer can help you recover unpaid overtime pay, attorney’s fees and other money from your employer. Contact an employment lawyer to discuss your case.

Employee Benefits

Employment laws protect certain employee benefits and benefit plans. When your employer violates these laws, it can deprive you of part of the compensation for your job. Texas employment lawyers help clients recover for employee benefit claims. If you believe your employer is messing with your benefits, you should talk to an employment lawyer.

Federal and Texas employment laws protect certain benefit plans like 401k plans, pensions, 403b plans, health insurance plans and disability benefits. These laws prohibit employers from stealing from the plan assets or using the plan for their own benefit. Claims under these laws are often extremely complex so if you believe your employer is messing with a protected benefit plan, you should talk to an employment attorney. 

You may have other employee benefits like vacation pay or executive compensation plans. Although these benefits are protected under less complex statutes, they are still part of your compensation and you deserve to receive all of your pay. If you believe your employer failed to pay you all of your compensation under benefit programs, you should contact an employment lawyer right away. 

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protects your right to family leave and medical leave of up to twelve weeks for a qualifying reason. FMLA protects your right to take unpaid leave and return to work at the end of your protected leave period. FMLA protects your right to take leave for:

  • Birth of a child and to bond with a newborn within the first year;
  • Placement of a child in your home through adoption or foster care and time to bond within the first year;
  • Your serious health condition;
  • To care for a close family member’s serious health condition;
  • Certain situations arising from a family member’s military service;
  • To care for a close family member’s military service-related injury or illness.

Leave rules under the FMLA can quickly become complex. Calculating eligibility for FMLA leave and the amount of time remaining under FMLA protections within a year are surprisingly complicated. FMLA also permits your employer to request certain information about your leave request. If you do not comply with FMLA rules, you can lose your leave protections. If your employer does not comply with FMLA, you may have a claim against your employer under FMLA. Additionally, if your employer unlawfully interferes with your FMLA request or retaliates for taking FMLA leave, you may have an FMLA claim. If your employer denied FMLA leave, or retaliated for taking FMLA leave, you should talk to a Texas employment lawyer right away.

Labor Law

Federal labor law protects the right for workers to cooperate to improve the terms and conditions of their jobs. Labor law most commonly involves union issues such as campaigning, voting and joining a union. It also includes your rights as a union member after electing a union and procedures when you grieve your employer under a collective bargaining agreement. Labor law also protects the right of employees to cooperate without a formal union. Any time workers engage in “concerted activity” to improve pay, work conditions and other job issues, labor law protects their right to discuss and present demands to their employers. 

Employers frequently oppose unions in the workplace and may engage in illegal activities to prevent workers from electing or joining a union. They also oppose workers cooperating informally to improve their jobs, pay and work conditions. Employers can oppose these activities but they cannot interfere with your right to cooperate with your coworkers. If your employer interferes with your union activity or cooperating with your coworkers to improve your job, you should talk to an employment lawyer right away.

Unemployment Benefits in Texas

Texas employees who lose their job through no fault of their own may receive unemployment benefits through the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). Employers often oppose unemployment benefit claims which may require a series of hearings in which you will need to present evidence and explain your claim. If your former employer contests your unemployment benefit claim, you should talk to an employment attorney in your area about representing you in your hearings. Additionally, your employment attorney can assess whether you have other claims to pursue, such as wrongful termination.

Texas Worker's Compensation

Employees who suffer injury at work may be eligible to receive worker’s compensation benefits from their employer. Worker’s compensation is generally a no-fault system for benefits so most people who have a workplace injury are eligible. Your employer may contest your work comp claim or want you to see their doctors who may downplay your injury so you go back to work. An employment lawyer experienced with work comp claims can help make sure you receive the benefits you are due.

Under Texas law, employers do not have to carry worker’s compensation insurance, so you can only receive benefits under work comp if your employer is a subscriber to the program. If your employer is not a work comp subscriber, you may need to look for other avenues to recover for your injuries. You may need to sue your employer if your employer is at fault. Texas employment lawyers can help you file a lawsuit and recover what you are due.

If a third party injured you while on the job, you may be eligible for work comp benefits but also have personal injury claims against the third party. These claims become more complicated because you may need to pursue a work comp claim and auto insurance claims, which may end up in a lawsuit. If you suffered an injury at work due to a third party, you should contact Texas employment lawyers right away.

Employment law attorneys in Texas

Non-Compete Agreements

Texas law allows employers to ask employees to sign non-compete agreements and enforces those agreements against employees. Non-compete agreements, sometimes called covenants not to compete, are agreements in which an employee agrees not to go to another company and use the employer’s trade secrets to compete with them. These covenants limit the employee’s right to work in the same market in a similar role. A non-compete agreement gives the employer assurances that it can give the employee training in proprietary services and techniques, client lists and sales practices, without that information ending up in a competitor’s hands. 

Non-compete agreements are not always enforceable. Texas law limits the scope of a non-compete agreement in time, space and function, so the employee is not forever bound to the employer. The employer must also prove the agreement relates to a meaningful trade secret that would benefit competitors if they received it. 

If you signed a non-compete agreement and intend to leave your employer, you should talk to Texas employment lawyers before leaving. Your employment lawyer can assess the enforceability of the agreement and discuss options to move on to a new job. Your employer might sue you and a future employer to enforce the agreement and stop you from working, so the non-compete agreement may have serious consequences to you.

Employment Background Checks

Increasingly employers use background checks to gain information about job applicants. Background checks can disclose criminal history, civil lawsuits, affiliates and organizational memberships, credit ratings and credit history. Employers use this information to assess candidates, so a background check can make or break your chances at a job. In Texas, employers can obtain background checks and use that information to make employment decisions. For some jobs, employers are required to investigate your background. An employment lawyer can talk to you about what information may appear and what options you can pursue to remove or fix problematic records.

Under Texas law, some criminal records may be expunged or sealed. There is a specific process to pursue expunging or sealing criminal records. After a court approves expunging or sealing criminal records, there are many additional steps to make sure all the right entities and agencies receive the court order to completely expunge or seal your criminal records. If you have criminal records, you should talk to an employment lawyer about your opportunities to expunge or seal them.

Government Employees

Federal, state and local government employees in Texas face employment law issues that differ from private sector employees. Public employees have unique rights to procedures when they face discipline or termination. They also have internal agencies they can report unlawful activity, such as employment discrimination or wrongful termination. Government employees also sometimes have to act on their employment claims quicker than private sector employees. If you work for a state, local, or federal government and believe you may have a claim against your employer, you should talk to employment lawyers near you right away. Your employment lawyer can assess your situation and help you pursue your claims.

Schedule a consultation with Texas employment lawyers

If you believe your employer violated your rights under labor and employment laws, you should schedule a consultation with Texas employment lawyers right away. You may have little time to act to protect your claim or to make decisions about whether to pursue one. Employment law claims are complex and challenging so you need an experienced employment lawyer on your side to advocate for your interest. Your employer almost certainly will hire an employment lawyer to represent its interests against you. You don’t want to lose your case because you didn’t have an advocate fighting for your interests and your rights. Find a lawyer today to discuss your case.

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