Texas is an at-will state, meaning there is no implicit contract between an employer and employee. Unless there is a physical contract that states otherwise, both an employer and employee have the right to change or terminate employment at any time, and without any stated reason.
However, while it is not required, many employers do provide a common reason for getting fired. Because there are laws in place to prevent wrongful termination (even in at-will states), citing any one of these valid reasons for firing an employee can be used as a shield to help employers avoid a lawsuit.
If you suspect that you have been wrongfully terminated despite the reasons your employer has given, employment attorney Dan A. Atkerson can assist you in Allen, TX, Plano, TX, and Frisco, TX, in determining if there are grounds for a lawsuit.
Common Reasons Given
Poor Job Performance
Poor job performance is probably the most frequently stated reason for termination. This is primarily because “poor job performance” can imply a broad range of issues, including making too many mistakes, failing to complete tasks in a timely manner, poor customer service, failure to meet quality standards, and so on. Essentially, by saying a worker is being fired for poor job performance, employers are able to give a reason for the termination without getting into the specifics behind the firing. This can not only serve as a convenient smokescreen, but also shifts responsibility onto the employee.
Too Much Time Off Work
Too much time away from work is another common reason given for termination. Most employees earn paid sick leave or vacation leave. If those hours are being used legitimately, they theoretically should be protected.
However, if employees take more time off beyond these hours or if the employer feels that they are frequently taking time off without a valid reason, they can be fired - whether or not the employee actually had a valid reason. Many employees who contract an illness, have chronic health conditions, or have to care for children often lose their jobs as a result of time away, even if they were using sick or vacation time.
Frequently Arriving Late to Work
Claiming that an employee arrives late or leaves early is a common and easy way to justify firing them, whether or not this is actually true. In many cases, employees are given specific times that they are expected to arrive at work and leave. While it is unreasonable to expect that an employee will never be late or need to leave early, many employers do just that.
Conducting Personal Business on Company Time
When people are at work, they are expected to focus their time and energy on their job duties. Realistically, many employees occasionally run a personal errand or check their personal email while they are at work. However, an employer can claim that this is a regular habit and cite it as a valid reason for termination.
Lying or Dishonesty
Dishonesty is another vague reason for termination. An employer may cite dishonesty or lying as a reason for termination if a worker has lied on their resume, falsified work documents (including time cards and expense reports), or stolen company property.
Employers often provide valid reasons for firing an employee to cover wrongful termination. If you have recently been fired and believe that your employment rights were violated, send us a message at your earliest convenience or call (214) 383-3606. Attorney Dan A. Atkerson can evaluate your situation to determine if you should pursue a wrongful termination lawsuit.