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Wrongful Termination/Discrimination

Spotting Illegal Discrimination / Wrongful Termination

Many people believe that an employer can only terminate or discipline an employee if that employee has done something wrong – and that if an employer does improperly treat an employee the employer could be subjected to some legal recourse; however, in most case those persons are wrong.  The State of Texas is considered an “at-will” state, which essentially means an employer can terminate any person that it wants, just like an employee can quit any time he or she wants.  As long as the employer’s actions do not fall violate very specific federal or state laws, ( or there is some kind of contractual relationship) there is no recourse for am employee that is mistreated.  In addition, an employer can abuse its employees in many ways, as long as (a) that abuse does not rise to the level of assault or intentional infliction of emotional distress, or (b) the abuse is not motivated by illegal factors (i.e. race, religion, gender, disability, etc. . . ).

Although the laws of the State of Texas and the United States do protect employees from illegal discrimination and harassment, not every unfair act committed by an employer is considered a violation of these laws.  In most cases, an employer can only be held liable for a violation of the discrimination laws if it treats an employee or applicant differently based on his or her race, color, religion, national origin, gender, pregnancy, age, disability, and, in some Texas cities, sexual orientation.  In addition, only significant employment decisions are considered to be a violation of these laws, such as decision involving hiring, promoting, compensating, or terminating.

But how does a person know whether he or she has been illegally discriminated against?  One of the easiest ways is if the person making the employment decision says something that immediately suggests that an illegal factor entered into the decision-making process, for example comments such as, “We were looking for someone younger”, “Your religion is not welcome here”, “Pregnant women should stay home”, or “A woman should not be working in a job like this.”  However, in most cases illegal discrimination is much harder to spot.  Because of this difficulty, it is important to pay attention to many of the same clues that the courts look at when trying to determine whether illegal discrimination entered into an employment decision.  Some of those clues are as follows:

  • Better treatment of others that are not of the same race, gender, age etc…
  • A pattern of improper treatment against others of the same race, gender, etc…
  • Improper comments or jokes about race, gender, age, etc. . .  that are made by, or tolerated by, supervisors; and
  • Use of certain standards to make employment decisions that have no business purpose, or that disproportionately impact persons of a certain race, gender, age, etc. . .

These clues are not always easy to find, and sometimes require the filing of a lawsuit to obtain the information.  In addition, legitimate business decisions can sometimes appear to be discriminatory, when they in fact are not.  If you believe that you have been the victim of illegal discrimination, please fill out and send the discrimination e-mail form.  If your company has been wrongfully accused of committing a discriminatory act, please fill out and send our other email contact form.  We would be happy to review your matter, and contact you about your potential options.  PLEASE DO NOT DELAY, as this may prevent you from being able to assert your legal rights.

 

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  • Dallas Office
    1801 N. Lamar Street
    Suite 325
    Dallas, Texas 75202
    Phone: 214-749-1400
    Fax: 214-749-1410