How to Terminate an Employee in Texas

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Texas advocates employment-at-will.
Texas advocates employment-at-will. (Image: Empty Office Cubical image by TekinT from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>)

Employment in Texas is at the will of the employee and the employer, and termination of employment by either party is uncomplicated. It is easy for the employee to quit a job. However, Texas law has specific requirements for employers, and these statutes, along with Federal law, make termination of employees more difficult than the “employment-at-will” concept implies. Also, the Texas Payday Law regulates how and when to pay a discharged employee.

Post the correct literature when running a Texas business. Place an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission notice in a prominent location in accordance with Federal law, notifying employees of freedom from discrimination or retaliation.

According to the Texas Workforce Commission's website, you should post proper Wage and Hour Division posters in a visible location at the workplace, and have the Fair Labor Standards Act, Employee Polygraph Protection Act, Family Medical Leave Act and Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act posters in place, if they are applicable.

Keep records of employee evaluations, absences or offenses and document the reasons for termination. Avoid any implication of discrimination or retaliation and have documentation before terminating a Texas employee.

Consider the rights of the employee prior to termination. Be proactive. Know what employment-at-will involves in Texas. This does not include an implied contract exception or a good-faith exception, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. The State Constitution and statutes control any public policy exception in Texas, so it is defined narrowly. This means that there is no implied contract, there is no good-faith argument an employee can assert and any accusation that an action is against public policy must be a right provided in the Constitution or statutes.

Terminate an employee with full payment of wages under the Texas Payday Law. Pay discharged employees “no later than the sixth day after the date the employee is discharged” (Section 61.014). This includes bonuses and commissions. It is a criminal offense (third-degree felony) for an employer to fail to pay an employee outside of the six days after the employee makes a demand. The employer also may be assessed an administrative penalty, if he is found to have acted in bad faith.

The Texas Workforce Commission administers the Texas Payday Law and accepts wage claims from employees. If an award is made to the employee, the money comes from the employer.

Be honest, do not discriminate, document the personnel file, pay wages and benefits timely and be in compliance with state and federal law in order to avoid a discrimination or wage claim when terminating an employee in Texas. Consult an attorney specializing in Texas labor laws, if you have concerns.

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