Pay and Policies - General

  1. The basic rule of Texas employment law is employment at will, which applies to all phases of the employment relationship - it means that absent a statute or an express agreement (such as an employment contract) to the contrary, either party in an employment relationship may modify any of the terms or conditions of employment, or terminate the relationship altogether, for any reason, or no particular reason at all, with or without advance notice.

  2. Exceptions: other than statutes and express agreements, the only significant exception to employment at will is the "public policy" exception, i.e., no termination or adverse job action against an employee in retaliation for the employee having refused to commit a criminal act on the employer's behalf.

  3. Thus, in an employment at will state, and to a lesser extent in other states, employers may develop and change personnel policies, reassign employees, and change such things as work locations, schedules, job titles, job descriptions, pay, and other aspects of jobs at will.

  4. Texas is also a right to work state - under the Texas right to work laws (§§101.052-.053, Texas Labor Code), employment may not be conditioned or denied on the basis of membership or non-membership in a union.

  5. In almost any kind of employment claim or lawsuit, it will help to be able to point to clear written policies and to state that employees are notified of the standards to which they will be held.

  6. Secret policies are useless - employees should of course have access to whatever policies will apply to them - an unknown policy cannot be used against an ex-employee in an unemployment claim or any other kind of employment-related claim or lawsuit.

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