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How can I avoid wrongful termination claims in Texas?

If it is your duty to dismiss an employee in Texas, you know that the risk of a wrongful termination claim is very real. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to mitigate the likelihood of a lawsuit by utilizing best practices when terminating an employee.

The Texas Workforce Commission lists a few common issues employers face when firing an employee and what can be done to avoid them. For instance, the procedures for firing that exist within your company (usually stipulated in the company handbook) should always be followed. While Texas is an at-will employment state, claims are still possible if a worker shows they were not dismissed according to company policy. To this end, an employee should receive appropriate warnings regarding issues with work or behavior before an official firing takes place.

Accordingly, you should never fire an employee suddenly or as a result of a heated exchange. Employees fired without warning can claim they were not given time to remedy issues before they were let go. That’s why having a chain of disciplinary actions recorded is so important. This documentation will prove to the court that you made every attempt to help an employee address pertinent issues, and that the termination was not the result of a rash or careless decision.

Timely response to any claims made against you is also highly important. In fact, if you fail to respond in the time allotted you may waive your right to an appeal. An official statement of appeal will allow your business to show that a termination was undertaken in a lawful manner. When making an appeal, you must compile evidence that illustrates misconduct, as well as show that the worker was fully aware of concerns.  

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