Protecting Yourself Against Claims of Discrimination and Wrongful Termination


Most employers these days are getting faced with the want to make some changes to the way in which their firms are structured. For the duration of these hard financial occasions, I am sure that each decision is weighed very carefully. As of April 2009, the unemployment price in Texas stood at six.7%, which is greater than the 9.four% price of unemployment that the nation as a complete is experiencing. This relative very good fortune is of little comfort to these whose lives are affected. When you hold the livelihood of other folks in your hands, there is a wonderful sense of responsibility.

You require to make the decisions that are very best for your enterprise and family members as nicely as give consideration to the men and women who perform for you. Unfortunately, soon after issuing a painful but required reduce to your employees, you nonetheless could be accused of discrimination or wrongful termination. Good jobs are challenging to come by these days, and personnel may try any tactic to preserve their positions. You require to be familiar with both federal and state laws that apply to employment practices, as properly as know that measures you can take if faced with such a lawsuit.

Let me begin with a piece of very good news. Texas is one of the friendliest states in terms of employer protection. Our state follows the “employment at will” rule, which signifies that, with restricted exceptions, an employee can be fired without warning and with no lead to. Even if there is a written contract establishing employment, the employer have to specifically indicate that he or she will not terminate anybody except for under certain circumstances, which have to be laid out. So, even if you signed on the dotted line when hiring somebody to assist you in your workplace, you most likely have retained the correct to let that particular person go at any moment that you decide on.

The “at will” policy does attain its boundaries when it comes into conflict with the federal and state laws that are in place to protect employees. Texas employers can’t discriminate against or fire staff who fit into the following categories:

1. Whistle blowers – If any employee reports fraudulent activity or safety or environmental issues to authorities, this particular person cannot be fired as a outcome.

2. Refusing to Break the Law – This need to not be surprising. If you ask an employee to commit an illegal act and your request is refused, you may possibly not use this choice as lead to for termination.

three. Victim of Discrimination against Protected Class – An employee can’t be fired just based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age (with exceptions), disability, or for taking maternity or loved ones medical leave

If you are dealing with a former employee who is suing you for discrimination or wrongful termination and his reasoning does not match into one particular of the categories listed above, the case must be dismissed speedily. This is certainly the preferred outcome, as the price for further legal defense can be really hard for employers to deal with. Out of the discrimination claims that are not dismissed outright, eighty-one % wind up in front of arbitrators of in administrative hearings. These proceedings expense the employer an typical of among $ 22,000 and $ 40,000. Of course, circumstances that end up going to trial will be exponentially larger in total price. An employer’s best course of action is to know his rights and his boundaries when dealing with personnel and constantly to operate inside these suggestions.

Keeping up with this concern is critical for employers because accusations of discrimination are on the rise, each here in Texas and around the country. Age discrimination is one particular location that maybe does not get significantly publicity, but is a developing difficulty. As shared by Joe Bontke from the Equal Employment Chance Commission (EEOC), “The older the workforce gets, the more age discrimination claims come. 16,585 out of 86,000 cases received in Texas last year have been with regards to some kind of age discrimination.”

This represents a 20% enhance in claims considering that 2004. Section 21 of the Texas Labor Code, as nicely as the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, protects people who are at least forty years old from facing employment discrimination based on age. In addition, charges of racial discrimination in the workplace are at their highest levels nationally since 1994. With the diverse population that resides in Texas, this issue is a single that demands to be of concern to all employers. And, with layoffs and office closures continuing to take place in the wake of the present recession, you can be certain that disgruntled staff will be hunting for legal factors to protect their jobs or promotions when paychecks are on the line.

What can you expect if an employee does seek legal action against you? A complaint will be filed with the EEOC inside 180 days of the alleged wrongdoing. If mediation is obtainable, the EEOC may possibly present this selection to each parties as a first step. Mediation is free and the resulting settlements are confidential. If an investigation is determined to be needed, an individual from EEOC will be assigned to the case and embark upon a study of the case that typically takes at least six months.

The EEOC then will send the employee a “appropriate to sue” letter, which indicates that the employee either has a lead to for a complaint, no trigger for additional action, or insufficient evidence to proceed additional. Regardless of the selection reached by the EEOC investigator, the employee nonetheless has the appropriate to sue you in federal or state court for up to ninety days right after receiving the “correct to sue” letter. Be prepared for the possibility that an employee who is unhappy with his situation will pursue his or her case to the fullest extent attainable.

It is in your best interest to employ an employment attorney as quickly as you receive notice that an investigation concerning possible discrimination at your workplace is underway. An knowledgeable lawyer will assist you in the critical approach of becoming fully compliant with the request for supplies. Your lawyer also will be your advocate in presenting the best possible argument in your defense and guarantee that all relevant state and federal laws are getting applied on your behalf. If you are facing a complaint regarding employment discrimination or wrongful termination, please place a get in touch with to an attorney right now.