Texas Labor Laws
You should never feel unsafe at work, but unfortunately many Texas employers subject their employees to unfair and illegal working conditions. These labor violations can have far-reaching consequences for the victim, from lost wages to missed opportunities for advancement.
Fortunately, Texas workers are protected by both federal and state labor laws. If your employer fails to adhere to these laws, you have the right to take action.
The labor and employment attorneys at Morgan & Morgan are experienced in filing lawsuits over all kinds of unethical and unlawful labor practices. In fact, our firm has been recognized for filing more labor and employment cases than any other law firm in the country.
If you believe you may have been the victim of unfair or illegal treatment in the workplace, our attorneys may be able to help. Below we provide a brief overview of Texas labor laws you should be aware of.
What Is Wrongful Termination?
Texas is an “at-will” state, meaning employers can terminate employees at any time without reason, explanation, or warning. Even so, there are circumstances which may constitute wrongful termination. You may be able to sue if:
- You were fired because of your race, color, religion, gender, age, national origin, disability, or citizenship
- You were fired for filing a discrimination complaint
- You were fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim
- You were fired for bringing suspected wrongdoing to state or federal authorities
- You were fired because you refused to do something illegal for your employer
What Constitutes Workplace Discrimination in Texas?
Discrimination laws make it illegal for employers to treat employees and applicants differently based on immutable characteristics. Federal law prohibits discriminating against someone because of their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, citizenship status, or genetic information. The Texas Commission on Human Rights Act (TCHRA) affords many of these same protections.
Workplace discrimination can take many forms. You may have been a victim if:
- An employer refused to hire you based on your skin color
- You were passed over for a promotion because of your gender
- You were not given equal opportunity for training or advancement because of your religious affiliation
- You were screened out of the hiring process because you have a disability
What Is Harassment in the Workplace?
When workers are subjected to unwelcome action or statements based on protected traits (such as sex and race), it may constitute workplace harassment. Examples of harassment may include:
- Telling sexual or vulgar jokes
- Making comments about a coworker’s appearance
- Using racial slurs
- Making negative comments about an employee’s religious beliefs
- Remarking about a coworker’s sexual orientation
In addition, workplace harassment can take the form of quid pro quo harassment. This occurs when an authority figure offers or hints at giving something to an employee, such as a bonus or promotion, in exchange for satisfying a sexual demand. It can also occur if a person’s employment status hinges on complying with the demand.
What Are Overtime & Wage Violations?
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), workers have the right to earn a minimum wage of $7.25/hour as of 2020. In addition, under FLSA, Texas employers are required to pay employees overtime, at a rate of time and a half, for all hours worked above 40 in a week. However, not every employee is entitled to overtime – some are exempt because they are salaried and earn above a certain threshold.
Despite these laws, many employers seek to cut costs through unethical and deceitful practices, such as:
- Paying workers less than the minimum wage
- Giving “comp time” to be used toward vacation or sick time rather than overtime pay
- Misclassifying workers who should be paid overtime as exempt
- Forcing workers to pool their tips with non-tipped workers
What Are the Laws Regarding Time Off in Texas?
Some employers offer paid leave and sick days, but these benefits are discretionary in Texas. However, employers may be required to provide unpaid leave for various reasons, including:
- Family and Medical Leave: Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employees may receive up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave without jeopardizing their job status for various family and individual medical situations.
- Military Leave: Under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), service members have the right to fairness in their civilian careers, prompt reinstatement to their former position, and freedom from discrimination based on their service.
How Can I Contact a Texas Labor & Employment Attorney?
As you can see, there are many different federal and state laws designed to protect employees in Texas. In addition to the laws listed above, our attorneys handle cases involving defamation of character, employer retaliation, executive pay, and more.
If you believe you may have been treated improperly by an employer or another employee, schedule a free consultation. It costs nothing to get started, and we get paid only if your case is successful. Contact us now.