Texas Employment Law Basics

Authored By: Legal Aid of Northwest Texas - Waxahachie LSC Funded


General Rule - Employment at Will

The general law in Texas is that all employment is at the will of the employee or the employer. Either is free to terminate the employment relationship at any time for any reason or no reason at all. Neither the employee or the employer is required to give a reason.

There are 3 general exceptions to this rule: Contract rights, statutory rights or decision of the Texas Supreme Court. Until the Texas Supreme Court rules otherwise, neither the employee or the employer has a duty of good faith and fair dealing in the employment relationship. If you have lost your job without protection from contract or statutory rights, your only options are likely unemployment benefits or find another job.

Employment by Contract

You can be employed under one of three types of contract. You could be protected by a Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiated with the employer by a union. In this instance, the union should be able to explain your rights and pursue those rights on your behalf. You could be protected by an individual written agreement with the employer. You could be protected by an oral contract with the employer. Not all oral contracts are enforceable. If you need enforcement of a contract of employment, you will need to consult an attorney with knowledge of employment law or labor law.

Statutory Rights

Federal, State, County, City and School District employees generally have some degree of job protection by a variety of statutes. Other laws that offer some worker protection are: The National Labor Relations Act; The Fair Labor Standards Act; The Equal Pay Act; Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; The Age Discrimination in Employment Act; The Americans With Disabilities Act; COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act); ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act); The Family Medical Leave Act; Soldier's and Sailor's Civil Relief Act; Viet Nam Veteran's Reemployment Rights Act.

There are a variety of Texas laws that also provide some worker protection. Unemployment Compensation; Pay Day Law; Worker's Compensation Act; The Texas Commission on Human Rights Act; Jury Service; Whistle Blower; Military duty;

Employment of Children Texas Labor Code §§ 51.001

This is the Texas law regarding employment of children. A child is defined as any person under 18 years of age. A child under 14 years of age is generally not employable except by parents or in nonhazardous casual type jobs. Children ages 14 and 15 can not be employed for more than 8 hours per day and 48 hours per week. They can not be employed to work after 10 p.m. or on school nights, nor can they be employed to work after midnight at any time.

Jury Service Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 122.001

It is unlawful to terminate your employment because you must miss work to appear for jury duty.

If you are fired for reporting to jury duty, you are entitled to your job back plus money equal to at least one year salary. The employer can be convicted of a Class B Misdemeanor and put in jail for up to 180 days plus a fine.

Whistle Blower Tex. Rev. Civil Stat Ann. art. 6252-16a

Supreme Court Decisions

The Texas Supreme Court has ruled that it is unlawful to fire a person because they refuse to perform an illegal act. This case is very limited to its facts and similar cases must be carefully analyzed by a lawyer.