When Should You Talk to an Employment Lawyer?

Do I Need an Employment Lawyer?

Workers usually think their employers have their best interests in mind when setting policies, procedures, and rules. While we want to think the best of our employers, they may actually be exploiting their workers. Employees have legal rights, and employers are required by law to respect and abide by those rights. What can an employee do when they believe their rights are being violated? Call an experienced employment lawyer for help.

The Houston employment lawyers at Feldman & Feldman have extensive experience defending the rights of employees in Texas. Employment law is very complex, as both state and federal laws are intertwined. The best employment lawyers know these laws inside and out; also, industry-specific regulations and administrative procedures are relevant to employment law cases. Knowing your employment rights will help you understand when it may be necessary to reach out to an employment lawyer to seek legal advice.

Specific Times an Employee May Need an Employment Lawyer

1. Signing Legal Documents and Agreements

There are many documents an employer may ask you to sign before starting work or during your employment. These may include non-disclosure agreements, non-compete agreements, employment agreements, employment contracts, and more that will contain complicated legal terminology. You may not fully understand what you are signing and may fear losing the job opportunity if you do not sign whatever is placed in front of you right away.

This is not the case, as you can always have an employment lawyer review the documents so you understand what you are signing. Your employment documents must be expressed to you in a way that is understandable and fully transparent. If your employer does not allow you to fully understand these documents, they may be violating your legal rights. Always ensure that you absolutely comprehend every aspect of any agreement you are signing before starting your employment or during your employment should they change or new contracts be required.

You may have questions about specific provisions or clauses in a contract that seem ambiguous or confusing. Do not immediately sign a document that you believe may violate your rights. You should take the document home for review and have an experienced employment lawyer analyze the sections of the document that concern you. Do not be afraid to stand up for your right to review contracts and other documents your employer asks you to sign.

2. Employer Retaliation / Discrimination

Discrimination in the workplace is terrible, but it can be incredibly difficult to prove. It is illegal for your employer to discriminate against you on the basis of gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, and other legally enumerated characteristics. Your employer is also not allowed to retaliate against you for any reason.

You may be reporting discrimination, harassment, or a safety issue, and if your employer begins to treat you differently from other employees, they may be trying to retaliate against you. Having an employment lawyer by your side to back up your claims and protect you from retaliation may be necessary, as some employers do not take claims seriously. Your employer cannot threaten you in any manner, and if they do, an employment lawyer should immediately be consulted to defend your rights and help you through this challenging situation.

Some potential clients are afraid to confront their employers about retaliation and discrimination. However, you are sometimes the only individual who either witnessed the conduct or has evidence that the employer committed retaliation or discrimination. Therefore, you should speak with a skilled employment lawyer who can help you during this difficult time in your professional life.

3. Wrongful Termination

Texas is an at-will employment state. This allows employers to terminate a worker’s employment at any time for any reason as long as the reason is not illegal. There are specific illegal reasons that may make an employee’s termination wrongful. Illegal reasons for termination include racial discrimination and/or retaliation. Having an employment lawyer on your side after being wrongfully terminated will help your case as you will have someone who understands the law fighting for your rights.

Sometimes it can be difficult to establish that an employer terminated an employee for a specific reason. Gathering evidence from witnesses, employment documents, and other records can help you substantiate your claims. An employment lawyer can develop a case strategy that will put you in the best position to use the evidence in your possession to prove the employer violated your rights. You do not have to back down from an employer who discriminated against you. Also, you do not have to be afraid of an employer who terminated your employment in retaliation for pointing out instances of sexual harassment or employer misconduct. An employment lawyer has the experience and knowledge you need to support you throughout every stage of your case.

Learn more about wrongful termination

4. Sexual Harassment

If you have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace or on the job site, you should immediately report it to the proper personnel, usually your employer’s human resources department. Sometimes these situations are not handled properly or are “swept under the rug.” If this has happened to you, please contact a lawyer for help. If your employer chooses to fire you for reporting sexual harassment, this is considered retaliation, which is illegal. We will help you file a civil suit against your employer for illegally terminating your employment.

Many victims of sexual harassment feel intimidated by their abuser. Do not be afraid to assert your legal rights and hold the employer liable. Also, preserve any documentation of sexual harassment, including text messages, voicemails, and video recordings. You may have suffered sexual harassment while on a Zoom meeting or during an in-person meeting. If so, collect the contact information of the witnesses who observed the offensive conduct.

Sexual harassment covers a broad spectrum of conduct that includes verbal statements and offensive remarks. It may be necessary for you to speak to an employment lawyer to determine if the conduct you are concerned about constitutes sexual harassment. By consulting an employment lawyer, you will have a more comprehensive understanding of sexual harassment and how it manifests itself in the workplace.

5. Whistleblower Actions

After reporting your employer to a regulating agency for illegal activities, that employer cannot retaliate against you. Being a whistleblower takes bravery and our legal team is here to support you to ensure your rights are protected. You may have witnessed illegal conduct yourself, or you may have surmised that your employer is violating the law based on your assessment of accounting records, internal documents, and other evidence. It is against the law for your employer to terminate your employment because you report illegal conduct. Do not feel as if you deserve to lose your position with your employer.

An employment lawyer can explain the legal options available to you if you want to pursue a wrongful termination case against your former employer. It is necessary to preserve all communications you had with your former employer, including e-mails, text messages, and written correspondence. Also, you may have evidence of illegal conduct stored electronically. By providing your employment lawyer with this evidence, you can strengthen your wrongful termination case. You may have witnessed illegal conduct while working on a project with other employees. Therefore, you may need to gather witness statements from these other employees who had information regarding the relevant conduct.

6. Wage and Hour Disputes / Unpaid Overtime

Texas employers, for the most part, are required to pay their workers a minimum wage or higher. They are not allowed to withhold wages that you have earned and deserve to be paid. If your employer chooses to withhold your pay, contact us immediately to discuss your rights. You may also qualify to receive overtime pay. Depending on your employment classification, your employer may be required to pay overtime if you work over a certain number of hours each week. If you have been wrongfully denied earned overtime pay, contact us.

Both federal law and state law apply to wage and overtime disputes. If you have pay stubs, W-2 forms, and other earnings records, then you need to provide copies of those to an employment lawyer. By examining these documents and other evidence of unpaid or underpaid wages, an employment lawyer can set forth a case strategy that will help you prove your legal contentions. Also, you may have timestamped records of when you clocked in and when you clocked out of work. If you have access to these records, then you should send copies of them to your employment lawyer.

Sometimes it may be necessary for an employment lawyer to retain a forensic accountant to analyze financial records associated with a wage dispute case. Many larger employers have voluminous records relevant to your case. By examining these records and producing an expert report, a forensic accountant can substantiate your claims and contextualize them by explaining other illegal conduct your former employer committed. Pursuing your legal claims can take time, and it is possible your case may go to trial, but we are prepared to handle all of the work necessary to conduct a jury trial.

Learn more about wage and hour violations

Why Choose Feldman & Feldman as Your Houston Employment Lawyers?

The legal team of Feldman & Feldman is ready to help you with any employment issues you are facing. We support employees by giving them a powerful voice to advocate for fair working conditions. It can be very stressful, scary, and frustrating to think about taking legal action against your employer. You have no reason to be afraid with our Houston employment lawyers by your side. Do not wait for the worst to happen before you contact us to schedule a consultation.