Texas Employment Law Overview and FAQs 

For Employees and Employers

Employment law covers the relationships between employers and their current, prospective, and former employees. Both federal and state laws control various aspects of the employer-employee relationship, including each side’s rights and obligations. Because of the complexity of the employment relationship, this area of law involves issues as diverse as discrimination, record keeping, taxation, and workplace safety.

Understanding employment law in Texas is vital for employees seeking to know their workplace rights and responsibilities. We want to help you understand. Call Galo Law Firm today at 210-764-6135 to speak with an experienced member of our team.

Understanding Texas Employment Laws

Two people shaking hands.

Texas employment laws, governed by the Texas Labor Code, create a framework that balances the needs of employers and employees. These Texas labor laws cover a wide spectrum, from the minimum wage you earn to the overtime you’re entitled to and the safeguards against discrimination. One such regulation is the Texas Payday Law, which ensures timely payment of wages to employees.

To understand the direct impact on you as an employee, it’s important to take a look at the Fair Labor Standards Act, state law, and other federal employment laws.

Minimum Wage Regulations

In Texas, the minimum wage is set at $7.25 per hour, aligning with the federal minimum wage. But did you know that not all employees are paid the same minimum wage? For instance, tipped employees – those who regularly earn more than $20 per month in tips – can be paid a base wage of $2.13 per hour. If their tips and base wage don’t add up to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, the employer has to make up the difference.

Moreover, Texas law allows certain individuals to receive a subminimum wage under specific circumstances, as outlined in the Texas Minimum Wage Act. For instance, individuals under the age of 20 may receive an apprentice wage of $4.25 per hour during the first 90 days of employment or until they turn 20. This system is complex, but grasping these nuances is key to guaranteeing fair compensation for your work.

Overtime Pay Rules

Texas overtime laws operate under the principle of “time and a half”. If you work more than 40 hours in a workweek, you should be paid 1.5 times your regular rate for those extra hours. However, not all employees are eligible for overtime pay. Certain salaried employees who meet specific criteria are exempt, as are registered nurses paid on an hourly basis.

One of the more complex aspects of overtime pay in Texas is the Fluctuating Workweek Method. Some salaried employees are eligible for this, provided their workweek fluctuates and their hourly wage is not lower than the federal minimum wage rate. Their overtime pay is calculated by multiplying the hourly rate by 0.5 for each overtime hour worked during the week, as per state or federal law.

Anti-Discrimination Laws

Discrimination is a serious concern in any workplace, and Texas is no exception. Texas employment laws guard against workplace discrimination based on:

  • race
  • color
  • disability
  • religion
  • sex
  • national origin
  • age
  • genetic information
  • pregnancy or related medical conditions

The Texas Commission on Human Rights Act offers further protection against discrimination on similar grounds, including pregnancy or related medical conditions.

In a progressive move, Texas passed the CROWN Act, which prohibits discrimination based on hair textures or protective hairstyles associated with race. Additionally, it is illegal for employers to terminate or discriminate against employees who leave work to participate in a general public evacuation ordered under an emergency evacuation order. Breaching these anti-discrimination laws could result in fines, damages awarded to the victim, and changes to employment policies.

Employee Rights and Protections

As an employee in Texas, you have a plethora of rights and protections that aim to ensure your well-being and protection. These encompass leave policies, breaks, and workplace safety standards.

Leave Policies in Texas

Leave policies vary widely across the U.S., and Texas is no exception. Here are some key points to know about leave policies in Texas:

  • Private employers in Texas are not required by law to provide paid or unpaid holiday leave.
  • State employees in Texas are eligible for paid accrued vacation leave.
  • Qualified public employees in Texas are entitled to a paid leave of absence of up to 15 days per year for military service or authorized training.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is another important aspect of leave policies in Texas. It applies to employees of establishments with a workforce of 50 or more individuals, who are required to exhaust all paid vacation and sick leave entitlements before availing FMLA leave. For state employees, the accrual of sick leave is proportional to their working hours. Full-time state employees receive 8 hours of sick leave per month. Part-time employees accrue sick leave in proportion to their hours worked.

Breaks and Rest Periods

Breaks are an essential part of the workday, allowing employees to rest and recharge. However, surprisingly, Texas law doesn’t mandate breaks for most employees. There’s an exception for construction workers in Austin, who are entitled to a rest break of no less than 10 minutes for every 4 hours worked.

In addition to providing breaks for nursing mothers, employers are also obligated to make reasonable accommodations for employees. This can include providing a private space for pumping. These accommodations include providing a private space that isn’t a restroom, access to clean water and a sink, and hygienic storage options. While these may seem like small measures, they contribute significantly to creating an inclusive and comfortable work environment.

Workplace Safety Regulations

Workplace safety is a critical aspect of employment, and Texas takes it seriously. All Texas employers are required to comply with OSHA health and safety regulations. Failing to do so could result in fines ranging from $5,000 to $70,000. Furthermore, public employers in Texas are required to provide their employees with information and training about the hazardous chemicals they frequently use.

Certain industries have unique safety regulations. For instance, the healthcare industry in Texas has special regulations for workplace violence prevention. Industries that handle hazardous materials or engage in high-risk activities, such as construction, manufacturing, and oil and gas, also have specific regulations.

Hiring and Termination Practices

Comprehending the workings of hiring and termination processes is vital for every employee. In Texas, these practices revolve around the principles of at-will employment, right-to-work laws, and the rules governing final paychecks.

At-Will Employment and Exceptions

There are also different types of employment relationships. Employment relationships can be based on a contract, or they can be “at-will.” If the employment relationship is based on a valid contract entered into by the employer and the employee, the terms of that contract will govern the relationship. By contrast, an at-will employment arrangement can be terminated at any time, with or without reason, by either the employer (as long as the reason does not constitute illegal discrimination) or the employee. Similarly, employees can resign from their positions without cause or notice. This rule does have several key exceptions, however. It’s important to consider these exceptions. If an employer terminates employment due to a worker hiring a lawyer or filing a claim related to worker’s compensation, it’s considered an exception to the at-will employment rule.

The law also protects employees from retaliation. If you experience retaliation for participating in a legally protected activity, you may have grounds for wrongful discharge. Both state and federal laws forbid employers from terminating or retaliating against employees for specific reasons. Understanding these exceptions can help you protect your rights and can help you to know how to face the complexities of at-will employment.

Right-to-Work Law

The right-to-work law in Texas is another critical aspect of the employment landscape. This law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on their membership or non-membership in a labor union.

Today, this law ensures that union members are not subjected to discrimination in terms of employment prospects because of their association with a union. However, it’s worth noting that wages in right-to-work states like Texas are generally lower compared to non-right-to-work states.

Final Paycheck Requirements

When it comes to termination or layoff, the timing of your final paycheck is crucial. Texas law requires all wages to be disbursed on the regular scheduled paydays. If your employment is terminated involuntarily, your final paycheck must be provided within six days of the termination date. What’s more, there are no circumstances in which an employer can withhold a final paycheck.

Failure to provide a final paycheck promptly can result in substantial penalties for employers. Intentional non-payment of wages can be classified as a Class B misdemeanor, which can lead to up to 180 days of imprisonment and a fine of up to $2,000.

Child Labor Laws and Restrictions

Child labor laws are another crucial part of Texas employment law. These laws set minimum age requirements and work hour restrictions for minors, ensuring their safety and well-being. Violations of these laws can result in severe penalties, underscoring their importance.

In Texas, individuals under the age of 14 are prohibited from working. For those aged 14 and 15, there are specific regulations concerning work hours. Students enrolled in public or private schools are also under restrictions; they cannot work more than eight hours a day or 48 hours a week. Certain occupations are also off-limits to 16 and 17-year-olds for safety reasons. However, in cases of hardship, a waiver may be granted. All these exceptions are regulated by the Texas Workforce Commission.

Navigating Employment Disputes

Workplace disputes can be complex and challenging to understand. From filing wage claims and reporting discrimination to seeking legal assistance, there are several steps involved in resolving these disputes.

Filing a Wage Claim

If you believe you’ve been unfairly deprived of wages, you have the right to file a wage claim. In Texas, you can submit a wage claim to the Texas Workforce Commission within 180 days from the due date of the wages. To do this, you’ll need to provide your name and email address for the creation of a TWC User ID, which can be done online.

The process of filing a wage claim consists of multiple steps. The process comprises many steps, including:

  1. Gathering all pertinent documentation.
  2. Completing the Wage Claim Form.
  3. Submitting the form to the Texas Workforce Commission.
  4. The Commission will investigate the claim.
  5. You may have to attend hearings or meetings before a decision is reached.

If your claim is successful, you could retrieve your unpaid wages via the Texas Workforce Commission, the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, or by pursuing legal action through a lawsuit.

Reporting Workplace Discrimination

Workplace discrimination is a serious violation of your rights as an employee. If you believe you’ve been subjected to discrimination based on race, sex, age, or other protected characteristics, you can report this to the Texas Workforce Commission’s Civil Rights Division or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

While reporting discrimination, it’s crucial to collect and maintain all pertinent evidence. This can include direct evidence like emails or statements, as well as circumstantial evidence like patterns of behavior or differential treatment. Remember, you’re protected from retaliation when you report discrimination, and state and federal laws back you up.

Upon submission of your report, the Texas Commission on Human Rights or the EEOC can undertake an investigation, implement anti-discrimination laws, and levy penalties on employers judged guilty of discrimination.

Seeking Legal Assistance

Legal assistance can be a valuable ally in navigating complex employment disputes. Attorneys with experience in employment law can guide you through the process, ensuring your rights are protected and your interests are represented. If you need to obtain legal assistance, you can:

We provide effective legal services to support both parties in various labor disputes, such as wrongful termination, retaliation, and workplace conflicts. With our extensive experience as employment law trial attorneys, we offer comprehensive employment and civil litigation representation.

Contact Us For Confidence Navigating Texas Labor Laws

At Galo Law Firm, we can assist with a range of workplace injustices, including:

  • Discrimination
  • Harassment
  • Retaliation
  • Other forms of workplace injustice

Our clients appreciate our professionalism, dedication, and successful outcomes in their cases. We’re committed to providing you with the highest standard of legal representation and integrity.

We offer a diverse range of services for Employers, including:

  • Drafting and negotiating employment contracts
  • Advising on compliance issues
  • Representing in disputes
  • Filing charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

To speak to an experienced employment law attorney, simply call us at 210-764-6135 and let us help you navigate your way to justice.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the basic rule of Texas employment law?

The basic rule of Texas employment law is employment at will, meaning either party in an employment relationship can modify the terms of the relationship unless there is a statute or an express agreement stating otherwise.

Does Texas require an employee handbook?

Yes, Texas requires an employee handbook to ensure employees are aware of state-specific policies and rights.

What are the labor laws for full time employees in Texas?

In Texas, full-time employees are typically expected to work 40 hours per week, with non-exempt workers being paid at least 1.5 times their regular rate for hours worked beyond 40 in a regular week. There are no specific state laws about overtime, so federal regulations apply.

What is the minimum wage in Texas, and are there any exemptions?

The minimum wage in Texas is $7.25 per hour, in line with the federal minimum wage. There are exemptions for tipped employees and individuals under 20, who may receive lower wages under certain conditions.

How are overtime pay rules applied in Texas?

In Texas, overtime pay rules require employers to pay 1.5 times the regular rate for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek, with exemptions for certain salaried employees who meet specific criteria and registered nurses paid on an hourly basis.

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