Wrongful Termination Attorneys in Houston, Texas

Have you been terminated from a job for what you perceive to be all the wrong reasons? If so, you may be able to pursue a wrongful termination claim. Though Texas is an at-will employment state, meaning that your employer can fire you for any reason or no reason at all, state and federal laws protect you if the termination came as a result of discrimination, disability, retaliation, sexual harassment, or other protected characteristics or actions.

If you feel you have been wrongfully discharged, Starzyk & Associates can help. We have been litigating wrongful termination cases across the State of Texas for years and will investigate and pursue all your options. Starzyk & Associates proudly serves clients throughout Houston, The Woodlands, and the surrounding area.

What Constitutes Wrongful Termination?

There are several instances that may constitute wrongful termination:

  • Discrimination
  • Retaliation
  • Violates Public Policy
  • Written Promises
  • Implied Promises
  • Whistleblowing
  • Constructive Discharge

DiscriminationUnder the Civil Rights Act of 1964, your termination may be illegal if it was based on discrimination against a protected class to which you may belong. Protected classes are based on sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity), race, national origin, religion, and more. Subsequent federal laws extended protection against discrimination by age (40 and above), pregnancy, physical or mental disability, veteran status, and genetic information.

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RetaliationThe Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), in its most recently compiled statistics, says it received more than 70,000 discrimination claims in 2019, of which roughly 10 percent originated in Texas. Retaliation was the largest category of complaints.

Retaliation occurs when an employer punishes an applicant or employee for asserting their protected rights afforded to them under federal, state, or local laws. For example, if you report a safety violation at your company and you are subsequently discharged as a whistleblower (whether they say so or not), that can be cause for a wrongful termination legal action. The same rule applies if you report an act of sexual harassment or other abuse and get terminated as a form of retaliation.

Public Policy: Wrongful termination for violation of public policy occurs when an employer discharges an employee for:

  • Refusing to break the law (e.g., by filing a false report)
  • Performing a legal obligation (such as voting, serving on a jury)
  • Exercising a legal right or privilege (union or political activities)
  • Reporting an alleged violation of a public statute (often referred to as “whistleblower retaliation”)

Written or Implied ContractsIf you have a written contract or collective bargaining agreement, these can often trump the at-will-employment doctrine under Texas law. Similarly, other written and even implied promises can also be a factor. Employment manuals generally contain multiple disclaimers to help avoid litigation, but an acceptance-of-employment document, such as a letter, might be more binding. Implied promises, or implied contracts, exist when words and actions between the two parties suggest that a pact or contract has been reached. When these contracts are broken, it can lead to a case of wrongful discharge.

Constructive Discharge: Constructive discharge occurs when an employee quits due to intolerable circumstances, such as a hostile work environment involving harassment, retaliation, or continued discrimination. “I had to quit, it was so bad,” in other words. This can rise to the status of wrongful termination – a forced resignation; however, constructive discharge in Texas is very challenging to prove. An employee alleging constructive discharge must prove that the circumstances were so intolerable that a reasonable person in the employee’s position would have felt compelled to resign.

Can I Sue My Employer?

If you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated then you may file a claim with the appropriate federal, state, or local agency. In some cases, you are required to take this step before you can file a civil lawsuit. The agency will then conduct an investigation and provide a remedy where warranted.

If the agency doesn’t provide a remedy or you find the remedy insufficient, then you can file a civil lawsuit against your employer.

Possible Remedies

At the end of the claim process, if found to be wrongfully terminated, you may receive:

  • Back and future pay
  • Punitive damages
  • Reinstatement
  • A promotion
  • Attorneys’ fees

In addition, the company may receive an injunction against future illegal activity regarding employment and termination.

DISCRIMINATION ATTORNEYS SERVING HOUSTON, TEXAS & THE SURROUNDING AREAS

If you feel you’ve been wrongfully terminated in the Houston/Woodlands area, you should seek legal help immediately. Don’t wait. Timely filing is important. Since Texas is an at-will-employment state, you need seasoned attorneys to walk you through the legal process to protect your rights under the law. Call us today at Starzyk & Associates for personalized, focused, and dedicated legal help.