Dallas, Texas - The Texas Supreme Court carved out a narrow exception to the employment at will doctrine on public policy grounds: An employer may not fire an employee solely because the employee refused to commit a criminal act. For example, an employer may not discharge an employee because the employee refused to follow a directive to forge checks, falsify financial records, or dump hazardous chemicals in a no-dumping site. This exception applies only to requests to commit criminal acts; a discharged employee may not pursue a wrongful termination action because he refused to commit an unethical or immoral act.
If a discharged employee believes that his refusal to commit an illegal act led to his discharge, the employee may file a wrongful termination suit against his employer. The employee must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that his employer discharged him for the sole reason that he refused to commit a criminal act. If the former employee prevails, he may be entitled to actual damages (such as back pay) and exemplary damages (a monetary award meant to punish the employer).
To speak with an employment law attorney about a potential wrongful discharge action, contact the employment law attorneys at Clouse Dunn Khoshbin LLP at firstname.lastname@example.org.