An employer who may have reasonable cause to fire an employee should be especially careful taking any action when the employee has alleged sexual harassment or has already filed a sexual harassment complaint. While the majority of employers are well within their rights to fire an employee who is employed on an at-will basis, a firing that appears to be connected to a sexual harassment complaint can put employers at higher risk.
Laws on the state and federal level exist that protect employees who raise concerns about sexual harassment in the workplace. Firing an employee who has raised allegations of sexual harassment in the office could violate discrimination statutes. An employer is prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against an employee because that employee has made a claim regarding sexual harassment.
Even in instances where the employee needs to be terminated from his or her position, the employer should seek legal counsel regarding the appropriate steps to take if an incident of sexual harassment has been mentioned in a claim. Employers would do well to proceed cautiously in these situations so as to avoid further disputes or legal entanglements with that employee. An employer should have established a protocol for handling sexual harassment claims and document what they have done in response to these claims. This documentation can be essential in the event that the employee alleges wrongful termination in Texas as a result of filing a sexual harassment complaint.
Being accused of wrongful termination is no laughing matter- in fact, if your company is found to be liable, you may wind up with financial responsibility for your actions. This is to say nothing of the other repercussions at stake, such as your reputation and the potentially public nature of a court case. If you have been named in a wrongful termination case in Houston, it may be beneficial to pursue resolution instead through mediation.
Employers cannot discriminate against an employee based on the employee’s membership in a protected class such as disability or race. Employers are also prohibited from firing an employee who had rights under public policy which he or she exercised- such as serving in the military, taking time off work to vote, taking time off to serve on a jury, or whistle blowing. Furthermore, employers cannot retaliate against employees who have engaged in some kind of protected activity, like filing a formal complaint with the company about discrimination or harassment, filing or talking about filing a workers’ compensation claim, and similar situations.
While the majority of employment contracts are “at will”, giving the employer the ability to fire an employee at any time for nearly any reasons, violations like those mentioned above could spur a Houston legal dispute over wrongful termination. Mediation may be a more private and efficient means to work through those disputes with former or current employees.
While there is no specific federal “wrongful termination law”, there are a set of laws that, if violated by a Houston employer, could constitute the wrongful termination of that employee. Taken together, these are typically referred to as a wrongful discharge laws or wrongful termination laws in Houston.
If the employer violates public policy, state laws, or constitutional provisions, an employee may have the grounds for a wrongful termination suit. If the employer violated contracts linked to the employment, too, an individual might be able to argue wrongful termination in mediation or court.
Some of the most common laws that are referenced in Houston wrongful termination suits include federal and state discrimination laws, employment provisions outlined in the Fair Credit Reporting Act, rights granted by the U.S. Constitution, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Americans with Disability Act.
As is briefly illustrated here, there are many laws that can impact a wrongful termination suit. Employers would be well advised to be clear on the wide array of laws and regulations governing these situations, as wrongful termination suits can be expensive in terms of time and money. More employers opt to nip these conflicts in the bud by attempting mediation first, which can be more private and valuable for both the employer and employee.
More individuals involved in Houston wrongful termination cases are turning to mediation to attempt to resolve their issues. Whether you’re trying out mediation at the outset of your case or whether you’ve already initiated some of the legal steps, it can be wise to see how mediation benefits your case and allows you and the other party to move on with your life post-dispute.
If you’re looking for a mediator, local or state organizations of mediators may have lists of relevant individuals with experience in the field of wrongful termination. You may also know someone who has gone through a case like this before and getting a referral is a good idea. Most professional mediators will have a website, too, which you might locate by searching the type of case you are involved in and the geographic area.
Finding a good mediator can have a significant impact on the outcome of your Houston wrongful termination case. In many situations, an experienced mediator can guide conversation meaningfully and allow you and the other party to reach a resolution much more quickly than you otherwise would. This has the added benefit of reducing the costs that you put into the case, allowing you and the other party to move on with your lives after the dispute. Do your research to identify the party most likely to help you resolve the case effectively.
Houston mediator, John W. Kelly, Jr., has been mediating employment discrimination cases since 1992, either as an advocate or neutral mediator. As an experienced employment mediator, he can assist the parties in identifying the strengths and weaknesses of their positions. Contact him today at 713-775-3003 or send him an email at [email protected] for a complimentary initial consultation.