Texas Employment Lawyer

Your employer might be “the boss” when it comes to your job. However, even your boss cannot make choices about your work that are discriminatory or against state or federal law. In general, your employer needs to pay you properly, keep the premises safe, and conduct their business in a non-discriminatory manner. If your employer cannot stay in line with these obligations, you have a right to hold them accountable and recover any losses you suffered as a result. Fighting an employer for what you are due can be stressful, but it is much easier when you have a good Texas employment lawyer in your corner. At Javia Law, we are passionate about advocating for employees and protecting their rights. 

What Are My Rights As an Employee?

As we mentioned above, Texas employers have three major obligations toward their employees:

  • Not to discriminate against or harass employees,
  • To pay employees properly for their work, and
  • To keep the workplace safe.

As simple as these three basic obligations sound, many employers willfully or negligently violate them frequently. 

Your Right to a Non-Discriminatory Workplace

Texas is an at-will employment state. This means that if you do not have an employment contract regarding the duration of your work, your employer can fire you at any time, without reason. This also means that you can quit at any time, but this right goes only so far. Yes, your employer can fire you at any time, but their ability to fire you “for any reason or no reason at all” does not extend to firing you for illegal reasons. So if they try to fire you and the reason is discriminatory—you may be able to bring an employment action against them.

For instance, if your employer’s actions or workplace decisions against you are motivated by any of the protected characteristics or activities listed below, you could have a workplace discrimination case against them. You can sue an employer for discriminating based on:

  • Age,
  • Assertion of employee rights,
  • Color,
  • Disability,
  • Military affiliation,
  • National origin,
  • Participation in an emergency evacuation,
  • Race,
  • Religion, or
  • Sex.

Discriminatory actions that can trigger complaints include firings, demotions, disciplinary actions, failures to promote, unequal pay, denial of benefits, harassment, and refusal to hire. If you fear that you are the victim of workplace discrimination, speak to a discrimination attorney immediately. 

Sexual Harassment

Every worker has an absolute right to work in an environment free from sexual harassment. Unfortunately, sexual harassment is far too common in some workplaces. Sexual harassment can take many forms, including:

  • Unwelcome touching,
  • Offensive comments,
  • Requests for sexual favors, and
  • Unwelcome advances.

In many cases, you need to make clear to your harasser that their actions are unwelcome and report harassing activity to the proper authorities (your supervisor, human resources, and the harasser’s supervisor if possible). These steps help preserve your right to file a harassment complaint. We know this is easier said than done when it comes to such a sensitive subject. But remember, you do not have to defend yourself alone. An experienced sexual harassment and workplace discrimination lawyer can help you through the complaint process and give you support when reporting misconduct. 

Other Harassment

Sexual harassment is not the only harassment that employees can suffer at work. While discrimination can result from an employer firing you or demoting you based on your inclusion in a protected class—workplace discrimination can also take the form of daily abuse that results in a hostile workplace. If you regularly endure offensive conduct based on your membership in a protected class, you could have a harassment claim against your employer. Once again, it is important to tell your harasser to stop and to report harassment to the appropriate supervisors. 

Reasonable Accommodation for Disabilities 

If you have a disability and you can perform the essential tasks of a job, do not let an employer deny you that job or benefits because of your disability. An employer has to give you reasonable accommodations for your work and during the job application process. 

What is a reasonable accommodation? It is any work environment modification that is not too expensive or difficult to implement and can help you get or do a job. If your employer argues that they do not have a way to reasonably accommodate your needs, you can bring them your own list of easy accommodation options. A list like that can be hard to deny legally. A disability discrimination attorney can help you with accommodation options and follow up with legal action if your employer refuses to budge. 

Filing a Discrimination Complaint

Discriminatory employers should be held accountable. You can do this by filing a workplace discrimination complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) or the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. You have 180 days to file a complaint. 

If you file a complaint with the TWC and they send you a notice of your right to file a civil action, you can file a civil lawsuit against your discriminatory employer. The deadlines for these actions can be tricky and strict, so it is best to speak to an employment attorney as soon as you suspect unlawful employment activity. 

Your Right to Proper Pay

Your employer has an obligation to pay you the right amount for your work. Currently, the minimum wage is $7.25 per hour under federal and Texas law. If your employer is not paying at least this rate for your labor and you are not exempt from minimum wage laws, you can file a lawsuit against them. You have two years to file a lawsuit to recover your wages. You can also recover additional liquidated damages in an unpaid wage lawsuit. 

If you work more than 40 hours in a seven-day workweek, you also have a right to overtime pay for the excess working time. The rate for your overtime pay should be 1.5 times your regular pay rate. 

Your Right to a Safe Workplace

Your workplace should be safe. Under federal law, your employer has to provide you with a workplace that is free from recognized hazards. If your employer does not provide you with a safe workplace, you can file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Employers who violate workplace safety laws could be subject to civil penalties or imprisonment depending on the severity of the violation.

Where Can I Find Employment Lawyers Near Me? 

If you are working in Texas and in distress over your employer’s actions, you can turn to Javia Law. Our experienced employment lawyers are passionate about championing and protecting workers’ rights. From fighting for discrimination-free workplaces to proper pay and Family and Medical Leave Act benefits, we are here to zealously advocate for you. Give us a call or contact us online for a free consultation.