Use the Lexology Navigator tool to compare the answers in this article with those for 20+ other jurisdictions.

State snapshot

Key considerations
Which issues would you most highlight to someone new to your state?

Texas has unique open carry and concealed gun laws that every employer should consider. Since 1995 Texans have been permitted to carry licensed, concealed guns on the property of others, unless prohibited by the landowner or subject to one of the statutory exceptions (e.g., hospitals). Under the new law (which became effective in 2016), a person with a concealed handgun license is allowed to open carry handguns, unless the landowner prohibits it or a statutory exception applies. As an organization, it is up to the employer to determine whether it wants to permit or prohibit open and/or concealed carry for employees and/or customers or vendors, among others.

Employers can have one policy for employees and a different policy for customers or vendors. Similarly, some companies choose to ban open carry but allow concealed carry. If companies wish to prohibit persons from entering their premises with guns (either open carry or concealed), conspicuous notices should be posted at each public entrance. The notices must:

  • track the statutory language exactly;
  • appear in contrasting colors with block letters at least one inch in height; and
  • be displayed in a conspicuous manner clearly visible to the public at each entrance to the property. 

One sign should prohibit concealed guns and a second should prohibit open carry.

Under Texas gun laws, you may always orally request that a person with a gun leave your facility, with or without compliant written notification. In order for a person to be subject to misdemeanor charges for carrying a gun onto the premises (in violation of Section 30.06 or 30.07 of the Penal Code), the person must receive either oral notification or the compliant written communication described above.

In addition to signage, if the decision is to prohibit open and/or concealed carry in the workplace, it is advisable to include a brief section in the employee handbook explaining the policy. Alternatively, employees could sign a separate standalone policy and acknowledgement. Regardless of the company’s position concerning open carry or concealed guns, subject to limited exceptions (e.g., schools, certain chemical plants and oil and gas refineries), employees will remain permitted to store lawfully possessed firearms in locked, privately owned vehicles in company parking lots. Company policies should carefully allow for this exception.

Similarly, Texas law regarding restrictive covenants (non-compete and non-solicitation agreements) are unique and worthy of special consideration. For example, at-will employment by itself is insufficient consideration to support a restrictive covenant in Texas.

What do you consider unique to those doing business in your state?

Texas has unique open carry and concealed gun laws that every employer should consider. Since 1995 Texans have been permitted to carry licensed, concealed guns on the property of others, unless prohibited by the landowner or subject to one of the statutory exceptions (e.g., hospitals). Under the new law (which became effective in 2016), a person with a concealed handgun license is allowed to open carry handguns, unless the landowner prohibits it or a statutory exception applies. As an organization, it is up to the employer to determine whether it wants to permit or prohibit open and/or concealed carry for employees and/or customers or vendors, among others.

Employers can have one policy for employees and a different policy for customers or vendors. Similarly, some companies choose to ban open carry but allow concealed carry. If companies wish to prohibit persons from entering their premises with guns (either open carry or concealed), conspicuous notices should be posted at each public entrance. The notices must:

  • track the statutory language exactly;
  • appear in contrasting colors with block letters at least one inch in height; and
  • be displayed in a conspicuous manner clearly visible to the public at each entrance to the property. 

One sign should prohibit concealed guns and a second should prohibit open carry.

Under Texas gun laws, you may always orally request that a person with a gun leave your facility, with or without compliant written notification. In order for a person to be subject to misdemeanor charges for carrying a gun onto the premises (in violation of Section 30.06 or 30.07 of the Penal Code), the person must receive either oral notification or the compliant written communication described above. 

In addition to signage, if the decision is to prohibit open and/or concealed carry in the workplace, it is advisable to include a brief section in the employee handbook explaining the policy. Alternatively, employees could sign a separate standalone policy and acknowledgement. Regardless of the company’s position concerning open carry or concealed guns, subject to limited exceptions (e.g., schools, certain chemical plants and oil and gas refineries), employees will remain permitted to store lawfully possessed firearms in locked, privately owned vehicles in company parking lots. Company policies should carefully allow for this exception.

Similarly, Texas law regarding restrictive covenants (non-compete and non-solicitation agreements) are unique and worthy of special consideration. For example, at-will employment by itself is insufficient consideration to support a restrictive covenant in Texas.

Is there any general advice you would give in the labor/employment area?

Generally, Texas law is very similar to federal law. There are a few exceptions, but not nearly as many as other states. The main differences involve gun rights and restrictive covenants.

Emerging issues
What are the emerging trends in employment law in your state, including the interplay with other areas of law, such as firearms legislation, legalization of marijuana and privacy?

Texas recently passed a new open carry gun law to complement its existing concealed gun law. Every employer operating in Texas should carefully review these laws. 

Proposals for reform
Are there any noteworthy proposals for reform in your state?

Not at this time.

Employment relationship

State-specific laws
What state-specific laws govern the employment relationship?

The Texas Labor Code contains many of the statutes governing the employment relationship, although they generally follow federal law. Chapter 21 of the Texas Labor Code contains prohibitions on discrimination in employment, Chapter 61 governs payment of wages and Chapter 451 prohibits retaliation against an employee who files a workers' compensation claim in good faith.

Who do these cover, including categories of workers?

It is generally the same as federal law.

Misclassification
Are there state-specific rules regarding employee/contractor misclassification?

Generally, no. 

Contracts
Must an employment contract be in writing?

No, although Texas has a strong policy in favor of employment at will. This means that, absent a statute or express agreement (e.g., 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 reason at all, with or without advance notice. Thus, Texas 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.

Are any terms implied into employment contracts?

No, although Texas has a strong policy in favor of employment at will. This means that, absent a statute or an express agreement (e.g., 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 reason at all, with or without advance notice. Thus, Texas 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.

Are mandatory arbitration agreements enforceable?

Yes. The precise wording is extremely important, and there are several key strategic decisions to make when considering an arbitration agreement.

How can employers make changes to existing employment agreements?

If the agreement is in writing, then a written agreement supplementing or superseding the prior agreement will usually be required. If the agreement is not in writing, advance reasonable notice of the change typically suffices. For example, two weeks or 30 days would typically be sufficient notice.

Hiring

Advertising
What are the requirements relating to advertising open positions?

The same as those under federal law.

Background checks
What can employers do with regard to background checks and inquiries?

(a) Criminal records and arrests

Texas requirements are generally the same as those under federal law. The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act may apply.

(b) Medical history

Texas requirements are generally the same as those under federal law. The federal Americans with Disabilities Act and Genetic Information Non-discrimination Act may apply.

(c) Drug screening

Texas requirements are generally the same as those under federal law. Private employers in Texas may adopt drug and alcohol testing policies for their workers.

(d) Credit checks

Texas requirements are generally the same as those under federal law.

(e) Immigration status

Texas requirements are generally the same as those under federal law.

(f) Social media

The federal National Labor Relations Board has imposed strict requirements on employer policies addressing social media, but Texas imposes no unique requirements.

(g) Other

Generally the same as those under federal law.

Wage and hour

Pay
What are the main sources of wage and hour laws in your state?

The Texas Payday Law, contained in Chapter 61 of the Texas Labor Code, contains requirements on final pay, payment for unused vacation or paid time off, payment of bonuses and commissions, and related topics.

What is the minimum hourly wage?

The same as those under federal law.

What are the rules applicable to final pay and deductions from wages?

Written authorization is required for deductions from wages. Final pay is due to a discharged employee with six days of termination. For all other employees, final pay is due on the next regular payday.

Hours and overtime
What are the requirements for meal and rest breaks?

The same as those under federal law.

What are the maximum hour rules?

The same as those under federal law.

How should overtime be calculated?

The same as those under federal law.

What exemptions are there from overtime?

The same as those under federal law.

Record keeping
What payroll and payment records must be maintained?

Generally the same as those under federal law.

Discrimination, harassment and family leave

What is the state law in relation to:
Protected categories

(a) Age?

Generally the same as those under federal law.

(b) Race?

The same as those under federal law.

(c) Disability?

The same as those under federal law.

(d) Gender?

Generally the same as federal law. 

(e) Sexual orientation?

Some cities have passed their own ordinances prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, although Texas has not.

(f) Religion?

The same as those under federal law.

(g) Medical?

The same as those under federal law.

(h) Other?

The same as those under federal law.

Harassment
What is the state law in relation to harassment?

The same as those under federal law.

Family and medical leave
What is the state law in relation to family and medical leave?

There is no state-specific Family and Medical Leave Act. Federal law applies.

Privacy in the workplace

Privacy and monitoring
What are employees’ rights with regard to privacy and monitoring?

There are no statutory rights. Common law claims for invasion of privacy and related torts may arise in some circumstances. A properly worded policy can help prevent and/or defend such a claim.

Are there state rules protecting social media passwords in the employment context and/or on employer monitoring of employee social media accounts?

No.

Bring your own device
What is the latest position in relation to bring your own device?

There is no Texas statute on this subject.

Off-duty
To what extent can employers regulate off-duty conduct?

There is no Texas statute on this subject.

Gun rights
Are there state rules protecting gun rights in the employment context?

Yes, Texas has unique open carry and concealed gun laws that every employer should consider. Since 1995 Texans have been permitted to carry licensed, concealed guns on the property of others, unless prohibited by the landowner or subject to one of the statutory exceptions (e.g., hospitals). Under the new law (which became effective in 2016), a person with a concealed handgun license is now allowed to open carry handguns, unless the landowner prohibits it or a statutory exception applies. As an organization, it is up to the employer to determine whether it wants to permit or prohibit open and/or concealed carry for employees and/or customers and vendors, among others. Employers can have one policy for employees and a different policy for customers and vendors. Similarly, some companies choose to ban open carry but allow concealed carry. If companies wish to prohibit persons from entering their premises with guns (either open carry or concealed), conspicuous notices should be posted at each public entrance. The notices must:

  • track the statutory language exactly;
  • appear in contrasting colors with block letters at least one inch in height; and
  • be displayed in a conspicuous manner clearly visible to the public at each entrance to the property.

One sign should prohibit concealed guns and a second should prohibit open carry.

Under the Texas gun laws, you may always orally request that a person with a gun leave your facility, with or without compliant written notification. In order for a person to be subject to misdemeanor charges for carrying a gun onto the premises (in violation of Section 30.06 or 30.07 of the Penal Code), the person must receive either oral notification or the compliant written communication described above.

In addition to signage, if the decision is to prohibit open and/or concealed carry in your workplace, it is advisable to include a brief section in the employee handbook explaining the policy. Alternatively, employees could sign a separate standalone policy and acknowledgement. Regardless of the company’s position concerning open carry or concealed guns, subject to limited exceptions (e.g., schools, certain chemical plants and oil and gas refineries), employees will remain permitted to store lawfully possessed firearms in locked, privately owned vehicles in company parking lots. Company policies should carefully allow for this exception.

Trade secrets and restrictive covenants

Intellectual Property
Who owns IP rights created by employees during the course of their employment?

The employer generally does. Having a properly worded IP agreement with each employee can help significantly.

Restrictive covenants
What types of restrictive covenants are recognized and enforceable?

Generally, non-compete, non-solicitation of customer, non-solicitation of employee, and non-disclosure covenants are enforceable if the agreement is worded properly. There are many nuances to Texas law on the issue of restrictive covenants, particularly on the consideration needed to support such an agreement.

Non-compete
Are there any special rules on non-competes for particular classes of employee?

No, although the entirety of the circumstances will be evaluated. Thus, it is generally easier to enforce a non-compete agreement against someone who was new to the industry when joining the employer in question.

Labor relations

Right to work
Is the state a “right to work” state?

Yes.

Unions and layoffs
Is the state (or a particular area) known to be heavily unionized?

No, although there is more union activity than is commonly thought. 

What rules apply to layoffs? Are there particular rules for plant closures/mass layoffs?

None, other than federal law. Specifically, the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act may apply.

Discipline and termination

State procedures
Are there state-specific laws on the procedures employers must follow with regard to discipline and grievance procedures?

No. Texas’s strong policy in favor of at-will employment means that progressive discipline is not required. 

At-will or notice
At-will status and/or notice period?

Texas has a strong at-will policy. Absent a specific written document, all employees are at-will. There is no notice period.

What restrictions apply to the above?

The Texas Labor Code generally tracks federal law. Additionally, it is unlawful in Texas to terminate an employee (even an at-will employee) for his or her refusal to perform an illegal act. There are many nuances to such a claim.

Final paychecks
Are there state-specific rules on when final paychecks are due after termination?

Yes. Written authorization is required for deductions from wages. Final pay is due to a discharged employee within six days of termination. For all other employees, final pay is due on the next regular payday.