5 things to know when you are terminated or laid off

You count on your job to pay your bills. You can't make payments if you don't have an income. You could lose your home or suffer other consequences. Labor laws in this country, including some that are specific to Texas, provide you with some rights that you must know about.

#1: Even at-will situations don't allow for discriminatory firings

Employers can fire employees for many reasons. None of the allowable reasons include discriminatory behavior of any sort. An employer can't terminate you because of a disability, your gender, your age, your marital status or any other covered category. Getting a notification about the reason for the termination might help you. Terminations that are retaliatory in nature are also against the law.

#2: Proof might be hard to obtain

Proof of the wrongful termination might be difficult to obtain. Keep anything that you have legal access to that can show that you were the victim of wrongful termination. For example, positive evaluations from prior to the termination might help your claim. This is often the case for retaliatory termination.

#3: Factory workers must have a warning of layoffs in most cases

Plant workers have a special protection when it comes to layoffs. You must receive notification of the layoff if the company meets certain requirements. One of these is that there are at least 100 employees who work more than 20 hours per week and those who have been there for at least six months. Layoffs that impact at least 50 workers require a 60-day notice.

#4: There is a deadline for getting you your final paycheck

Texas law stipulates that an employer must pay a terminated employee within six calendar days. This doesn't apply to employees who quit or resign. Those employees must get a final paycheck on the regular pay schedule. Employment contracts can impact certain types of final pay, including commissions. Be sure you understand all employment paperwork you sign when you are hired and at any point after.

#5: You might be able to keep your health insurance

You might be able to keep the health insurance you have for you and your family even if your employer terminates you. Your employer should give you information about Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or COBRA, coverage. You must pay premiums for this coverage. Without your income, this might prove difficult.

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