Texas Is An Employment At Will State

When signing an employment contract, it is important to understand the terms of the contract and applicable employment laws for the state in which the contract was formed. Texas is an employment at will state, let’s see what that means.

Why is Texas an Employment At Will State?

States differ in their employment laws; based on common law and precedent, Texas is an employment at will state. The fact that this principle is derived from common law means that there is no specific statute in Texas laws that indicates that Texas is an employment at will state. Common law is a body of laws that was never written into law by legislature, but instead have been so longstanding and implemented over a long period of time that courts consider the common law principles actual law.

What does Employment At Will Mean?

As mentioned above, the employment at will principle is derived from common law. Because the nature of this principle has never been written into statute, one must look to the courts’ interpretation of what employment at will means in order to truly understand it. Legal precedent in Texas have determined that employment at will means that an employer may terminate the employment of an individual with or without notice, and for any reason. Yes, employment may be terminated for any reason even if the reasons do not seem to be ethical.

What are the Issues with the Employment at Will Principle?

Although being an employment at will state might make Texas seem favorable to employers, there are major issues with this law. Let’s consider the issues:

  1. An employment at will situation diminishes the bargaining power between employers and employees.
  2. An employment at will situation will blur the lines of terminating employment for an individual – Imagine one is in a situation that needs to take a pregnancy leave to care for a newborn child, the employer will be able to terminate the employment based on the relationship being one that  is employment at will. Although discrimination based on pregnancy is illegal and unethical, it will still be difficult to prove in an employment at will contract.

Are there any Loopholes with Employment at Will?

It is important for one to understand that the employment at will principle is based in common law; it is not written in statutes or passed by any legislatures. The most monumental way to override common law principles is to pass laws by the local or federal legislatures.

The main obstacle to an employment at will situation are the implementation of anti-discrimination laws passed by the local and federal governments. By implementing anti-discrimination laws, it will become increasingly difficult for employers to terminate the employment of an individual if there is reason to believe the termination occurred based on any sort of discrimination.

Contract law is another means of limiting the implications of being in an employment at will state. When an employer and employee agree to the terms of a contract that might have terms overriding the employment at will principle, then the contract will control.