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Why Does Employment at Will Matter for Wrongful Termination Cases?

Many employees may be familiar with wrongful termination in Texas, but they may not realize the specific behaviors that have to happen in order for a case to meet the grounds for wrongful termination. Since the majority of employment relationships across the country are at will, it is important to understand what this concept means and whether a case truly meets the qualifications for wrongful termination.

“At will” means that the employer is well within its rights to terminate the employment contract at any time and for any reason. The only exceptions to this rule relate to several unlawful reasons for terminating an employee, such as violation of the federal or state’s discrimination laws. If an employer decides to end the employee’s employment, there are limited reasons that the employee can pursue a wrongful termination case. In an at will employment contract, the employer does not even have to have reasonable cause to terminate the employee’s working relationship.

Even if the employee is terminated from an at-will employment contract, the employer is still forbidden from terminating the employee from employment for unlawful reasons. This is the only exception to the general freedom provided to employers under at-will employment contracts. Employees cannot be terminated because of the employees’ membership in a protected class, such as gender, religion, or race. An employee cannot be fired because the employee has complained or reported illegal activity, harassment, health and safety violations, or discrimination.

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