Terminating an Employee in Texas

AdobeStock_300361069-300x200Texas is an at-will employment state, meaning at-will employees may be terminated at any time for any reason, as long as it is not an illegal reason when the decision is in the best interest of an employer. Terminating employees is rarely an easy decision, and any business struggling with employment decisions should work with an Austin employment lawyer.

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) notes that no advance notice of termination or resignation is necessary, but when advance notice of resignation is given, it may be accepted, rejected, or modified by an employer. When a notice period is rejected, an employer does not have to pay for the time not worked by an employee since the duty to pay ends on the date a work separation becomes effective.

Planning Terminations

There are several important points before termination takes place that can help decrease tensions and reduce exposure to risk for your business. Always plan a time either at the beginning or end of a work day to minimize embarrassment for an employee, and try to meet on some kind of neutral grounds, such as a conference room instead of your office or theirs.

Keep your meeting short, and when there is any history of complaints by an employee based on some legally protected category such as race, religion, disability, retaliation, or harassment, be sure to consult an Austin employment attorney. Try to restrict an employee’s computer access during or before a termination meeting to prevent any deletion of files or other types of damaging actions in the moments following a termination.

Make arrangements to recover any company property, and when an employee needs to transfer personal information from an electronic device, make sure they do it on-site and in the presence of a company representative. Always be as polite and professional as you can, avoiding any humiliation of the employee.

Legal Protections

You will also need to take certain measures to protect yourself in case an employee decides to take some legal action. Draft a Wage Deduction Authorization agreement to recover debts, such as for borrowed vacation time or unpaid loans, from the employee’s final check.

A Wage Deduction Authorization agreement should be drafted and signed well before the termination since the employer cannot make most deductions from an employee’s paycheck without a written and signed authorization. Also make sure an employee’s documentation is complete with reasons to support termination.

Be honest and forthright about the reason for termination. Do not make up false reasons for termination, and do not list every single bad or improper thing an employee ever did as a reason for termination, which could lead to an employment lawsuit or differing grounds for termination down the road.

Determine if you need a release from any potential claim. In such cases, an Austin employment lawyer can assist with drafting one, as this should not be tied to the employee’s receipt of their final paycheck.

You will often want to have another person in the room, but you will want it to be a management-level employee or member of human resources. Make sure everyone participating in the meeting documents what took place, and then deliver the final paycheck within six days of termination.

Call Us Today to Speak with an Austin Employment Lawyer

If you are trying to figure out how to terminate one or more of your employees, you can benefit by retaining legal counsel. An Austin employment attorney will be able to walk you through the entire termination process and ensure everything can go as smoothly as possible.

Structure Law Group understands that hiring decisions can be a major burden for employers all over Texas, and we help companies know how to properly manage their staff. Call (512) 881-7500 or contact us online for a consultation with our Austin employment lawyer.