EMPLOYER LIABILITY: Punitive Damages for Employees Terminated for Refusal to Perform an Illegal Act
Kane Russell Coleman & Logan PC
Mike Logan, Logan Burke
KRCL Litigation Alert, July 2, 2012
The Texas Supreme Court recently rendered an important decision which has the potential to expand an employer's liability for wrongful termination of employees in Texas. Texas is an at-will employment state where employers have the ability to terminate the employment relationship at any time and for almost any reason. One of the few exceptions to Texas's at-will employment doctrine is the public policy exception when an employee is terminated for refusal to perform an illegal act. These Sabine Pilot wrongful discharge claims were judicially created to prevent employees from having to choose between their livelihoods and breaking the law. In Safeshred, Inc. v. Louis Martinez, III, the Texas Supreme Court considered whether punitive damages were available against an employer for Sabine Pilot claims, and what must be shown as a prerequisite for those damages.
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