Wrongful Termination Exceptions

Wrongful Termination: Federal and State Exceptions to At-Will Employment

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Despite Texas being an “at-will employment” state, there are a number of state and federal statutes that prohibit the wrongful termination of an employee under certain circumstances:

Texas Statutory Exceptions

  • An employee of a state or local government unit discharged for whistleblowing. Tex. Gov’t Code § 554.002.
  • An employee discharged because of race, color, disability, religion, national origin, age, or sex under the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act (“TCHRA”). Tex. Lab. Code § 21.051.
  • An employee discharged for reporting or opposing violations of the TCHRA. Tex. Lab. Code § 21.055.
  • An employee discharged because of mental retardation. Tex. Health & Safety Code § 592.015.
  • An employee discharged for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Tex. Lab. Code § 451.001.
  • An employee discharged because of union membership or non-membership. Tex. Lab. Code § 101.052.
  • A permanent employee discharged because of active-duty service or training in the military forces of Texas or any other state. Tex. Gov’t Code § 431.006.
  • A permanent employee discharged for serving on a jury. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 122.001.
  • An employee discharged for complying with a valid subpoena. Tex. Lab. Code § 52.051.
  • An employee discharged for having a child-support withholding order against the employee. Tex. Fam. Code § 158.209.
  • An employee discharged for taking time off to vote or to attend a political convention, or for refusing to vote in a certain way. Tex. Elec. Code §§ 161.007, 276.001(a)(2), 276.004.
  • An employee discharged for reporting violations of the Hazard Communication Act. Tex. Health & Safety Code § 502.017(c).
  • An employee discharged for exercising the employee’s rights under the Agricultural Hazard Communication Act. Tex. Agric. Code § 125.013(b).
  • An employee discharged for using the toll-free telephone service to report a violation of an occupational health or safety law. Tex. Lab. Code § 411.082.
  • An employee discharged without good cause while labor arbitration pursuant to the Texas Labor Arbitration Act is pending. Tex. Lab. Code § 102.031.
  • An employee discharged for refusing to buy certain merchandise (from a company store). Tex. Lab. Code § 52.041.
  • An employee discharged for refusing to take an AIDS test, unless the test is necessary as a bone fide occupational qualification. Tex. Health & Safety Code § 81.102(a)(5)(A).
  • A nursing-home employee discharged for whistleblowing. Tex. Health & Safety Code § 242.133.
  • A hospital, mental-health facility, or treatment facility employee discharged for whistleblowing. Tex. Health & Safety Code § 161.134.
  • A physician discharged for reporting acts of another physician to the Texas Medical Board. Tex. Occ. Code § 160.012.
  • A registered nurse discharged for reporting incidents of poor nursing to the Texas Board of Nursing. Tex. Occ. Code § 301.413.
  • A health-care employee discharged for refusing to participate in an abortion or for participating in an abortion in another facility. Tex. Occ. Code § 103.002.
  • An employee of Harris County or Dallas County discharged for participating in the county grievance procedure. Tex. Loc. Gov’t Code §§ 160.002, 160.006.

Federal Statutory Exceptions

  • An employee discharged because of age. Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. § 623.
  • An employee discharged because of race, color, sex, religion, or national origin. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“title VII”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2.
  • An employee discharged for reporting or opposing a violation of title VII. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3.
  • An employee discharged because of a disability. Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12112; Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794.
  • An employee discharged for refusing to submit to a lie-detector test. Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1998, 29 U.S.C. §§ 2002, 2005.
  • An employee discharged for declaring bankruptcy. Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978, 11 U.S.C. § 525.
  • An employee discharged for filing a wage or hour claim. Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C.§§ 215(a)(3), 216.
  • An employee discharged for engaging in or refusing to engage in union activity. National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”), 29 U.S.C. § 158(a)(3).
  • An employee discharged to prevent the employee from attaining vested pension rights. Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C. § 1140.
  • An employee discharged without receiving notice of a plant closing or mass layoff. Worker Adjustment & Retraining Notification Act (“WARN”), 29 U.S.C. § 2104.
  • An employee discharged for whistleblowing about the following:
  • Job-related health and safety. Occupational Safety & Health Act of 1970 (“OSHA”), 29 U.S.C. § 660(c).
  • Violations of commercial-motor-vehicle safety regulations. Surface Transportation Assistance Act, 49 U.S.C. § 31105.
  • Asbestos hazards. Asbestos Hazards Emergency Response Act, 15 U.S.C. § 2651.
  • Unsafe shipping containers. International Safe Container Act, 46 U.S.C. app. § 1506.
  • Violations of federal water pollution and air pollution laws. Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972 (“FWPCA”), 33 U.S.C. § 1367; Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. § 7622; Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, & Liability Act of 1980 (“CERCLA”), 42 U.S.C. § 9610.
  • Mishandling of toxic substances. Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, 15 U.S.C. § 2622.
  • Violations of federal energy laws or Department of Energy procedures. 50 U.S.C. § 2702.
  • Violations of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954. Energy Reorganization Act, 42 U.S.C. § 5851.
  • Violations of airline regulations. Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (“AIR21”), 49 U.S.C. § 42121.
  • Accounting irregularities or securities law violations at publicly traded companies. Corporate & Criminal Fraud Accountability Act of 2002 (“Sarbanes-Oxley”), 18 U.S.C. § 1514A(a).
  • Unsafe pipeline operation. Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2002, 49 U.S.C. § 60129.

Contact Our San Antonio and Houston Wrongful Firing Lawyers Today

You do not have to sit by and do nothing if you believe you have been the victim of wrongful termination. Contact Carter & Bachynsky, L.L.P., online today to discuss your options with an attorney.