Wrongful termination claims can create a headache whether you’re the business owner or the employee who was terminated. Claims of wrongful termination can tarnish the reputation and brand of your business, or make it difficult for a fired employee to find new employment.
If you’ve received notice that a claim of wrongful termination has been filed against your business, there is no time to delay. Contact an experienced Houston wrongful termination attorney to begin a rigorous defense as soon as possible. Conversely, if you believe that you’ve been the victim of wrongful termination and are wondering if you should talk to a Houston wrongful termination lawyer, we can also help you. We represent both employees and employers in wrongful termination cases in Houston and use this experience to the full benefit of every client we represent.
Table of Contents
Wrongful Termination Defense for Employers
Wrongfully Terminated Claims for Employees
Defending a Wrongful Termination Claim
Businesses terminate employees every day. It is your right as a business owner to terminate employment for a variety of lawful reasons. Because Texas is an at-will employment state, businesses have a wide berth in deciding when and who they choose to fire, and notice is often not required.
Because it doesn’t make any sense for businesses to fire good employees for no reason, most terminations occur because the employee:
- Fails to perform the duties of the job
- Fails to follow rules in the workplace
In other instances, serious violations and/or crimes may lead to employee termination. Examples include:
- Theft from business
- Alcohol or drug use in the workplace
- Illegally carrying weapons in the workplace
- Violations of federal, state, and/or local laws
- Harassment of other employees
- Obtaining a position under false pretenses
Fighting a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit
When an employee is terminated for reasons they believe are unjust or discriminatory, they have the right to file a lawsuit against their former employer. However, just because an employee feels their termination was unfair, that doesn’t mean your business broke the law. If your business had valid reasons for terminating an employee, you should fight back vigorously.
A robust defense should be mounted immediately, demonstrating that you had legal reasons for firing an employee. To that end, the evidence that will be most helpful in proving you had a legally permissible reason to fire the employee can include performance reviews, written warnings (writeups), records of misconduct, and company policies and procedures which demonstrate the company’s rules.
It may comfort you to know that most wrongful termination cases in Texas are settled out of court or dismissed. Settling, if appropriate, is usually in the best financial interest of all parties involved, as the process can be lengthy and expensive, not to mention the damage it can cause to a business’s reputation.
To have the best possible defense against such a lawsuit, you need the help of an experienced employment lawyer. The Houston wrongful termination attorneys of Feldman & Feldman will fight for your business and help you prevent future issues.
The best way to deal with wrongful termination lawsuits is to avoid them at all costs. There are steps a business can take to reduce the chances of such a claim being brought. The experienced, successful wrongful termination defense lawyers at Feldman & Feldman in Houston can advise you on how to proceed with employee terminations to avoid litigation, including the following tips:
- Keep Careful Documentation. If there is a problem with an employee, whether it is due to job performance or disciplinary behavior, document every instance of the problem. Keep paper copies of performance reviews and require employees to sign them. Keep records of time cards and any other monitoring systems that are used.
- Establish Employee Termination Guidelines. There should be protocols in place for how employees are terminated. Set specific guidelines for every manager who has the right to terminate employees to ensure the process is handled correctly.
- Review every planned termination with human resources. If you are planning to terminate an employee, run the situation by your human resources department to ensure you are within your rights and you know how to properly handle it.
- Set clear expectations for employees. Be sure your employees know what is expected of them and inform them if their job performance is suffering. Employees should be allowed to make improvements before being terminated.
Filing a Claim for Being Wrongfully Terminated
If you’ve been fired, and you believe your employer fired you for illegal reasons, you will need a strong ally on your side. As the employee, you will have the burden of proving that you were wrongfully terminated. If you suspect that you were fired due to race, color, sex, gender, sexual orientation, ability, national origin, creed, or age, a workplace discrimination attorney should be consulted.
Our law firm is experienced in representing employees who have experienced workplace discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. If you’ve experienced any of these, contact our discrimination and harassment attorneys in Houston today.
What Constitutes Wrongful Termination
Businesses may not fire employees for any reason deemed unlawful, including terminating someone based on:
- National origin
- Sexual orientation
In addition, it is illegal to fire an employee who has exercised a legal right, such as filing a claim of discrimination or harassment.
Speak with a Houston Wrongful Termination Lawyer
A wrongful termination lawsuit can be expensive and damaging to your business’s reputation. Feldman & Feldman can help you fight back. We can also help you to avoid claims of wrongful termination by drafting thorough employment contracts for your employees. Our many years of commercial litigation experience have prepared us for cases like these. We can also counsel your company with legal advice to help you avoid future lawsuits.
If you’re an employee who has been wrongfully terminated in Houston, our attorneys are also available, so contact us today to schedule a consultation.