Are There Exceptions to At-Will Employment Laws? By Dan Atkerson on May 27, 2015

Texas is an “at-will” employment state. This means that both employee and employer are free to terminate their relationship to one another at any time, no strings attached, for any or no reason at all.

But this rule is not ironclad, and there are quite a few exceptions. Most are created by statute, but the courts have also had to step in occasionally to create exceptions.

The List of At-Will Exceptions

  • Employees cannot be terminated for refusal to commit an illegal act.
  • Employees cannot be discharged for being in a union, acting under collective bargaining agreements or engaging in union-related concerted actions.
  • Employees cannot be terminated because of their membership in a protected class (race, sex, pregnancy, disabilities, age, etc.)
  • Employees cannot be terminated for refusal to submit to a polygraph test.
  • Employees cannot be discharged without required notice, as in cases with mass layoffs. The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) dictates that employers must provide a 60 calendar-day advance notice of layoffs and closings for companies with 100 or more employees.
  • Employees cannot be fired in retaliation for complaints of discrimination or coming to the aid of another person’s complaint. Additionally, you cannot be fired in retaliation for taking medical leave, military leave, responding to a subpoena, jury duty, filing for workers’ comp, or refusing to join a union.
  • Employees cannot be fired for filing health and safety complaints.
  • Employees cannot be fired for making wage claims.
As you can see, the status of Texas as an at-will state does not give your employer carte blanche to fire workers. If you have been wrongfully terminated and believe that the action violated an exception to the at-will doctrine, do not hesitate to contact an employment law attorney.

Atkerson LawDallas Employment Law Attorney

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Dan Atkerson

Law Offices of Dan A. Atkerson

Dan A. Atkerson has been protecting the rights of North Texas employees for over nearly four decades. He is affiliated with several prestigious legal organizations, including: 

  • United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit
  • State Bar of Texas
  • Texas Supreme Court and all Texas trial and appellate courts 
  • Texas federal courts for the Northern and Eastern Districts of Texas
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • State Bar of Texas
  • Dallas Bar Association 

Through aggressive, knowledgeable representation, he has helped clients all over the state reach significant verdicts and settlements. To schedule your free consultation at our law firm, request an appointment online or call us at (214) 383-3606.

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