Ever since a senior vice president of Halliburton Co. was arrested on a prostitution charge last week, many people have been speculating about what the arrest means for his future with the Texas oilfield services company.
Texas is an at-will employment state, which means that people can be fired from their jobs at any time and for any reason, as long as the reason itself is not contrary to state or federal employment protections–such as discrimination. Some employees, however, have employment contracts that spell out the terms of their employment. In these cases, a termination must be in compliance with the contract.
It is quite common for employment contracts to include provisions that state employees can be fired if they become engaged in any criminal conduct. However, being arrested and charged does not in and of itself mean someone is engaged in crime. The Halliburton senior vice president is currently out on bond and he has yet to be convicted of any crime.
And, of course, we do not know whether he even has an employment contract. Employment contracts are typically reserved for executives and senior management.
Without a contract, this man would be subject to at-will employment, meaning Halliburton could likely fire him for the arrest if it so chooses.
While most workers in Texas do not believe that they will ever be arrested for a crime, this situation shows us the importance of employment contracts. Whenever an employee enters into a contract, he or she is wise to seek legal counsel to help draft, negotiate and review the contract. It is impossible to predict the future and it is important to ensure an employment law contract protects one’s interests today and for years to come.
Source: Houston Business Journal, “Texas law or contract might determine Halliburton arrest response,” Deon Daugherty, Oct. 17, 2012