Under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, Texas government and public employees are entitled to certain protections. Generally, the Clause prohibits the government from depriving individuals of their life, liberty, or property interest without due process. In most cases, Texas government employees reasonably expect to continue their employment. This reasonable expectation results in a protected property interest.
Texas government employers should provide their employees with their due process rights before terminating their employee’s positions. Due process includes providing an employee with notice and a fair hearing. If a Texas employee believes their employer violated their due process rights, the courts will evaluate their case by examining two main factors. First, the court needs to determine whether the individual has a protected interest in continued employment and, second, whether the employer provided them with notice and a suitable level of process.
Typically, an employee’s expectation derives from their employer’s handbook or policy. In these cases, an employer’s policy or procedure may indicate that termination may only occur for “just cause.” Sometimes employer’s policies will further explain that other adverse employment actions, such as demotion and suspension, cannot happen without just cause as well. Although there is no official definition for “just cause,” there are many factors the courts will examine to determine whether the circumstances meet the threshold. Some elements include: the warning, the reasonableness of the prohibited behavior, the inquiry to determine fault, if the investigation was fair, whether the rules are applied consistently, and the employee’s record. Even if a Texas employer’s handbook, contract, or policy does not explicitly provide a property interest, their past practices may establish otherwise.
Complying with due process requires an employer to provide the employee with a notice that explains why the termination or adverse employment action is going to occur. It should be specific and clear. If the employer does not provide the employee with an opportunity for a hearing before the termination, they must offer it after the adverse employment action. The employer must allow the employee a hearing at a “meaningful time and manner.”
If a government employee does not have a protected property interest, their employer may not need to provide them with due process. Typically, this occurs when an employee is “at-will,” “term,” or if they are an applicant. In these instances, an experienced employment attorney can help the employee understand their rights and remedies. Damages may include compensation for lost wages and benefits, reinstatement, and back pay.
Has Your Employer Violated Your Due Process Rights?
If your employer has violated your due process rights, you should contact the employment attorneys at Rob Wiley, P.C. The attorneys at our Dallas employment law firm have extensive experience handling complex employment discrimination lawsuits. They can fight to ensure you have a fair and meaningful opportunity to protect your employment interest. Contact the law firm at 214-528-6500 to schedule a consultation.