Employment Law Claims in Texas
Employment laws protect your right to certain terms and conditions of employment, such as minimum wage and FMLA leave, but they also protect you from harmful acts by your employer, such as harassment, wrongful termination and retaliation. Many federal and Texas employment laws include provisions barring these practices from the workplace under specific circumstances. If you believe your employer engaged in these acts, you should schedule a consultation with a Texas employment lawyer right away.
You have the right to go to work free from harassment related to a protected class or your exercise of a protected right under employment law. Harassment, also referred to as a hostile work environment, can have a significant negative impact on your job. If you suffer harassment on the basis of a protected class or your exercise of a protected right, you may have a claim against your employer.
Employment laws define harassment or hostile work environments in specific terms. The offensive conduct must be related to a protected class or your exercise of a protected right AND it must be so severe or pervasive that it alters the terms and conditions of your employment. The harassment might be related to a protected class and create an employment discrimination claim. It could also occur because you requested FMLA leave or complained about not receiving overtime pay. It can also take the form of sexual harassment when a supervisor seeks sexual favors in exchange for a benefit or to prevent a harmful act.
Pursuing harassment claims can be complicated for many reasons. Employment laws prohibiting harassment involve proving specific facts about the employer’s conduct. Depending upon the reason why you suffered harassment, you may also have to fulfill specific administrative requirements and may have to act within a very short window to protect your claim. If you believe you suffered workplace harassment, you should talk to an employment attorney right away.
Similarly, many employment laws prohibit your employer from firing you for exercising a protected right or because of a protected class. If your employer discharges you for one of these reasons, then you may have a wrongful termination claim. In common language we often talk about wrongful termination to mean your employer fired you for a bad reason or without a factual basis. Legally this term is much more narrow. Wrongful termination claims arise from specific violations of employment laws by your employer.
Wrongful termination claims arise from very specific circumstances. These include:
- Membership or association with a protected class under employment discrimination laws;
- Retaliation for complaining about unlawful discrimination;
- Requesting a reasonable accommodation for a disability;
- Taking or requesting FMLA leave;
- Complaining about unpaid wages or overtime pay;
- Filing a workplace safety complaint with OSHA;
- Refusing to submit to a supervisor’s demands for sexual favors;
- Refusing to perform an illegal act requested by your employer.
Although this is not an exhaustive list of reasons you may have a wrongful termination claim, you can see the reasons involve specific legal issues. If your employer fires you because you don’t get along with your supervisor or it decides it is unhappy with your job performance, then you likely do not have a wrongful termination claim. If you believe you were wrongly discharged, you should talk to an employment attorney about your situation. Your attorney can assess your situation and discuss the merits of a wrongful termination claim.
Employment laws also prohibit retaliatory acts because you exercised a protected right or engaged in other protected activities. Unlawful retaliation occurs when you engage in a protected activity and your employer either creates a hostile work environment or takes an adverse employment action against you. An adverse employment action includes acts that harm your job or the terms and conditions of your job, such as pay or work schedule. It also includes:
- Pay cuts
- Taking away job duties
- Negative performance reviews unrelated to your actual performance
- Refusing to provide training other workers receive
- Refusing to promote you to a position you were qualified for
An adverse employment action must be motivated by retaliation for your protected activity. Your employer usually will not come out and tell you the motivation was retaliation. Your employment attorney will have to investigate your case and present facts disputing the employer’s stated non-discriminatory reason. Like harassment and wrongful termination claims, retaliation claims also often involve administrative requirements to pursue the claim and brief windows to act. If you believe your employer retaliated for engaging in a protected activity, you should talk to an employment lawyer right away.