Q. Other than race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, age and disability, are there any other protected classifications under Texas law that might limit an employer’s right to terminate an at-will worker employed?
A. Yes. In addition to the protected classifications referenced above, employers are prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against employees for several other reasons, including:
- Filing a workers’ compensation claim (if the employer has workers’ compensation insurance)
- Voting for or against a particular candidate or not revealing how he or she voted (note that employers must allow employees to vote)
- Being called to jury service
- Reporting any complaint under the Hazard Communications Act
- Reporting instances of abuse of residents at nursing home facilities to law enforcement (applicable to nursing home employees)
- Reporting a violation of law (where the employer is a state or local government)
- Refusing to submit to a pre-hire AIDS test, or refusing to disclose the results of an AIDS test
- Complying with a subpoena
- Refusing to commit a criminal act.
This is not an exclusive list, but shows that even though Texas is an at-will state, there are a number of ways a fired employee can characterize a termination to make it possibly illegal.