Texas Termination

From: Staffing

Texas Termination

Texas Termination


Texas is an employment-at-will state. Absent a statute or an express agreement (such as an employment contract) to the contrary, either party in an employment relationship may modify any of the terms or conditions of employment, or terminate the relationship altogether, for any reason, or no particular reason at all, with or without advance notice.


Public Policy

Other than statutes and express agreements, the only significant exception in Texas to employment at will is the public policy exception where there may be no termination or adverse job action against an employee in retaliation for the employee having refused to commit a criminal act on the employer’s behalf. Texas provides the following statutory protections:

  • According to Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 261.110, an employee may not be retaliated against (or discriminated against) for reporting suspected child abuse.
  • According to Tex. Health & Safety Code Ann. § 502.017(c), an employee may not be discharged (or discriminated against) in retaliation for filing a complaint, assisting an inspector, instituting a proceeding, testifying, or exercising a right under the Hazard Communication Act.
  • According to Tex. Hum. Res. Code § 36.115, an employee may not be discharged (or discriminated against) for reporting fraud or falsification of a Medicaid claim.
  • According to Tex. Lab. Code Ann. § 21.055, an employee may not be retaliated against (or discriminated against) for opposing a discriminatory practice, making a discrimination charge, filing a discrimination complaint, or testifying, assisting, or participating in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing of discrimination. Texas law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, disability, religion, sex, national origin, or age.
  • According to Tex. Lab. Code Ann. § 22.002, an employee may not be discharged (or discriminated against) in retaliation for leaving his or her place of employment to participate in a general public evacuation ordered under an emergency evacuation order.
  • According to Tex. Lab. Code Ann. § 411.082, An employee may not be suspended or discharged in retaliation for reporting an alleged violation of an occupational health or safety law via the Safety Violations Hotline (through the Texas Department of Insurance, Workers’ Compensation Division). The report must be made in good faith.
  • According to Tex. Local Gov’t Code Ann. §§ 160.006 and 161.157, an employee may not be discharged (or discriminated against) in retaliation for reporting a violation of the law by their employing government entity or another public employee to a law enforcement authority. Tex. Gov’t Code Ann. § 554.002. Additionally, neither public employees nor their supervisors or managers may be subject to retaliation for using the local government grievance process or for reporting a violation of the local government ethics code.
  • According to Tex. Occ. Code Ann. § 301.413(b), nurses receive additional protection when reporting certain violations required by law. Additionally, the Texas Health and Safety Code provides numerous protections for health care employees.
  • According to Tex. Labor Code Ann. § 451.001, an employer may not discharge or in any other manner discriminate against an employee because the employee has done any of the following:
    • Filed a workers’ compensation claim in good faith.
    • Hired a lawyer to represent the employee in a claim.
    • Instituted or caused to be instituted in good faith a proceeding under the workers’ compensation law.
    • Testified or is about to testify in a proceeding under the workers’ compensation law.

Right to Work

Texas is a right-to-work state. Accordingly, pursuant to Tex. Lab. Code Ann. §§ 101.001 – 101-303, employment may not be conditioned or denied on the basis of membership or nonmembership in a labor union or other labor organization. The Texas Workforce Commission, Civil Rights Division has the authority to investigate and resolve complaints of employment discrimination by private and public employers with at least 15 employees, as well as by state agencies, colleges and universities, employment agencies, and labor organizations.

Texas laws protect employees from threats, force, intimidation, or coercion for choosing to either participate or not participate in a union. Employees may not be required to join or pay dues to a union as a condition of employment, nor be denied employment because you have joined a union. Employers that entered into a collective bargaining agreement with a union which requires employees to make payments to, or on behalf of, a labor union under the agreement as a condition of employment may be in violation of Texas right-to-work laws. However, Texas right-to-work law does not apply to federal enclave worksites.

Job Reference

Texas’ job-reference liability law, located at Tex. Lab. Code Ann. §§ 103.001 – 103.005, protects employers that release information about a current or former employee to a prospective new employer from defamation liability, unless either of the following apply:

  • The information disclosed was known by that employer to be false at the time the disclosure was made.
  • The disclosure was made with malice or in reckless disregard for the truth or falsity of the information disclosed.


According to Tex. Lab. Code Ann. § 52.031blacklisting is to place in a book or list or publish the name of an employee of an individual firm, company, or corporation who was discharged or who voluntarily left employment, intending to prevent the employee from engaging in or securing employment of any kind with any other person, in either a public or a private capacity. A person commits the offense of blacklisting if he or she performs either of the following:

  • Blacklists or causes to be blacklisted an employee.
  • Conspires or contrives by correspondence or any other manner to prevent an employee discharged by a corporation, company, or individual from procuring employment.

However, a corporation, company, or individual may give, on application from a discharged employee or a person desiring to employ the employee, a written truthful statement of the reason for discharge. This statement may not be used as a basis for a civil or criminal action for libel against the person who furnishes the statement.


If convicted of blacklisting, an individual may be sentenced to a fine between $50 and $250, imprisonment in jail between 30 and 90 days, or both.

Final Wages

According to the Texas Payday Law, located at Tex. Lab. Code Ann. § 61.014, if an employee is laid off, discharged, fired, or otherwise involuntarily separated from employment, the final pay is due within six calendar days of discharge. If the employee quits, retires, resigns, or otherwise leaves employment voluntarily, the final pay is due on the next regularly scheduled payday following the effective date of resignation. Final pay includes regular wages, fringe benefits payable under a written policy, and any other component of the pay.

It is illegal to hold a final paycheck past the deadline for reasons such as failure to return company property, failure to sign timesheets, or similar problems. If the company knows or should know what the pay should be, it must deliver the final pay no later than required by law.