Based upon Holly Dais’ advice, Kris Kringle opts to throw a “Holiday Party.”  The big day arrives and RevvedUp Retailer’s employees gather for a traditional turkey dinner at a swanky resort.  The setting is beautiful and everyone is having a jolly time until some of RevvedUp Retailers employees reveal they don’t like turkey.  Kris Kringle is shocked at this incredible revelation and immediately fires those employees.  Can Kris Kringle fire employees just for not liking turkey?

Yes. Texas is an employment-at-will state. The employment-at-will doctrine maintains that if there is no express agreement to the contrary, employment may be terminated at any time by either party, for good cause, bad cause, or no cause at all.

In Texas, some of the exceptions to the employment-at-will doctrine are termination related to actions:

  • Contrary to an employment agreement;
  • Arising from refusing to commit a criminal act for the employer, or from “whistle-blowing” on violations or crimes committed by the employer;
  • Discriminating on the basis of age, race, national origin, gender, religion, disability, or pregnancy;
  • Refusing an AIDS test or polygraph test;
  • Serving on a jury, or complying with a subpoena;
  • Performing active duty in state military forces;
  • Filing a claim under the Workers’ Compensation Act;
  • Requesting or taking leave under the Family Medical Leave Act; or
  • Complaining of minimum wage or overtime violations.

Tilting the Scales In Your Way

Although employees may be terminated for good cause, bad cause or no cause at all, employers often feel compelled to offer explanations or reasons for termination.  Resist the temptation. It can only lead to headaches.  By the time you decide to terminate an employee, it’s too late to explain, and trying to justify your action will probably be futile.  The safest practice is to offer no reason at all and just say “things are not working out and I think it’s best if you and the company part ways.”

For more information, please see Montgomery County Hosp. Dist. v. Brown, 965 S.W.2d 501 (Tex.1998) or AccuBanc Mortg. Corp. v. Drummonds, 938 S.W.2d 135 (Tex.App.–Fort Worth 1996, writ denied).