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Texas is an at-will Employment State

Feb 25, 2013

What is meant by “at-will” employment?

Texas is an at-will employment state, meaning that employers generally may terminate their employees at any time, for any or no reason, without incurring liability under Texas law, unless they have contractually agreed otherwise. See E. Line & R.R.R. Co. v. Scott, 72 Tex. 70, 10 S.W. 99, 102 (Tex. 1888) (adopting at-will employment doctrine); see also Montgomery Cnty. Hosp. Dist. v. Brown, 965 S.W.2d 501, 502 (Tex. 1998) (“For well over a century, the general rule in this State, as in most American jurisdictions, has been that absent a specific agreement to the contrary, employment may be terminated by the employer or the employee at will, for good cause, bad cause, or no cause at all.”); Sabine Pilot Serv., Inc. v. Hauck, 687 S.W.2d 733, 734-35 (Tex. 1985) (noting certain statutory exceptions to general rule). In Sabine Pilot, the Texas Supreme Court judicially crafted a “very narrow exception” to this general rule, recognizing a cause of action against an employer that discharges its employee “for the sole reason that the employee refused to perform an illegal act.” Sabine Pilot Serv., Inc. v. Hauck, 687 S.W.2d 733, 735 (Tex. 1985).

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