When it comes to employment in the state of Texas, it is governed by the doctrine of at-will employment. This means that for many employment disputes, employees will have no recourse. There are occasions when businesses hire or promote bad employees into supervisory or management positions. There are occasions when supervisors and management fail to enforce or follow company policies. However, it would be impossible for courts to monitor and dictate all of the daily operations of each and every company nor does the law allow it. What the courts are allowed to do is hear and protect the rights that are actually given to employees under various laws when an employer has engaged in unlawful conduct. What is unfair, unprofessional, or unethical conduct does not always equal unlawful.
Where the law fails to protect employees, it is important for companies to have human resources departments to enforce policies and to ensure fairness. Where the law fails to protect employees, smart business operations make it essential for companies to have strong leadership in place willing to do the right thing. This is not because the law dictates, because it often does not, but because good business practices, professionalism, ethics, and the desire to retain good and hardworking employees should be motivation enough.
Yet, what happens to employees when companies don’t make smart business decisions and throw professionalism and ethics out the window? At-will employment means there may be no law that stops employers from making bad decisions that affect their employees and businesses. At-will employment may mean that hardworking employees may have no legal claims to pursue if they are wrongfully terminated. Nevertheless, at-will employment also means that hardworking employees have the right to leave when they have endured all they can tolerate. Employees have the right to take their talents to employers that will value them.
Sometimes it can be difficult for an employee to decide what to do when their working conditions have become untenable. They may have confusing feelings or lingering questions. It could be a manager that treats them differently and holds them to different or impossible standards. Is this treatment based on some discriminatory reason or is it a situation where the company has made a poor hiring or promotional decision? An employee may voice a complaint to human resources and feel they are facing retaliation after having made that complaint. Did the employee engage in legally protected conduct or did the employee make a complaint that’s not protected under the law?
When an employee has lingering questions about their treatment at work and is deciding what their next step should be – staying to fight or walking away – they often want to know and understand their rights. When an employee has questions, our employment attorneys are available for consultation.
A consultation with an attorney does not ensure that a legal claim follows. However, a consultation with a qualified employment attorney affords an employee an opportunity to discuss their concerns when they are: (1) feeling that something is not right at work and that they are being treated differently for some reason or another; (2) wanting to know how to properly voice their complaints to their employer; (3) when they are concerned about obligations they may have after quitting; or (5) wanting to know if there is a battle to fight with their employer or should they find something better and simply walk away.
Navigating employment law and employee rights can be difficult. An early consultation may help an employee prepare and protect their rights. An early consultation may even help an employee before they do something that jeopardizes any legal claims they may have. If the law does not provide protections, a consultation may help an employee make decisions about continuing their employment or taking their very valuable skills elsewhere.