Labor and Employment Law Overview: Texas

Labor and Employment Law Overview requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Author: XpertHR Editorial Team

Summary

  • Texas law prohibits an employer from discriminating and retaliating against employees in a variety of protected classes. See EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations.
  • In Texas, there are requirements relating to the minimum wage and child labor. See Wage and Hour.
  • Texas has laws that relate to employee pay and benefits, including payment of wages, pay frequency, pay statements, wage deductions and health care continuation. See Pay and Benefits.
  • Under Texas law, employees are entitled to certain leaves or time off, including military leave, jury duty leave, court attendance leave, emergency evacuation leave, voting leave and political leave. See Time Off and Leaves of Absence.
  • Texas prohibits using a cell phone while driving and allows employers to prohibit weapons in the workplace. See Health and Safety.
  • When employment ends, Texas employers must comply with applicable final pay and job reference requirements. See Organizational Exit.

Introduction to Employment Law in Texas

Texas generally follows federal law with respect to antidiscrimination, minimum wage, child labor and leave laws, but provides employees with broader rights with respect to topics such as health care continuation coverage and emergency evacuation leave.

Select Texas employment requirements are summarized below to help an employer understand the range of employment laws affecting the employer-employee relationship in the state. An employer must comply with both federal and state law.

An employer must also comply with applicable municipal law obligations affecting the employment relationship, in addition to complying with state and federal requirements.

EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations

Texas law regarding discrimination in employment essentially mirrors federal law. The Texas Commission on Human Rights Act (Texas Labor Code, Chapter 21) applies to private employers with 15 or more employees. Protected characteristics include:

  • Race;
  • Color;
  • National origin;
  • Religion;
  • Sex;
  • Age (age 40 or older);
  • Disability; and
  • Genetic information.

The TCHRA also prohibits an employer from retaliating against employees for:

  • Opposing discriminatory or otherwise unlawful employment practices;
  • Filing a charge or complaint; or
  • Testifying or otherwise participating in an investigation, proceeding or hearing.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on EEO, diversity and employee relations practices in Texas can be found in the Texas Employee Handbook Table of Contents, EEO - Discrimination: Texas, EEO - Harassment: Texas, Disabilities (ADA): Texas, EEO - Retaliation: Texas, Texas Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Texas? Federal requirements can be found in EEO - Discrimination: Federal, EEO - Harassment: Federal, EEO - Retaliation: Federal and Disabilities (ADA): Federal.

Wage and Hour

Key Texas requirements impacting wages and hours are:

Minimum Wage

Texas adopts the federal minimum wage rate by reference. The requirements for using the tip credit vary slightly.

Child Labor

Child labor laws in Texas restrict the occupations in which minors may be employed and the number of hours and times during which they may work.

Texas follows federal law in regard to prohibited and permitted occupations for minors, with special rules for solicitations and sales, sexually oriented businesses and driving.

Minors who are 14 or 15 years old may not work:

  • More than eight hours in one day;
  • More than 48 hours in one week;
  • Between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. on a day that is followed by a school day, including summer school, if applicable; and
  • Between midnight and 5:00 a.m. on a day that is not followed by a school day, including when school is recessed for the summer.

Minors may be asked to supply a certificate of age.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on wage and hour practices in Texas can be found in the Minimum Wage: Texas, Child Labor: Texas, Texas Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Texas? Federal requirements can be found in Minimum Wage: Federal and Child Labor: Federal.

Pay and Benefits

Key Texas requirements impacting pay and benefits are:

Payment of Wages

An employer must pay wages in cash, or with checks that are negotiable for cash on demand at full face value. Employees may agree in writing to receive part or all of their wages in kind or in another form.

An employer may impose mandatory direct deposit if it provides employees with at least 60 days' written notice and obtains from each employee the banking information needed to implement electronic funds transfer.

Pay Frequency

Exempt employees must be paid at least once per month, and nonexempt employees must be paid at least twice per month. To the extent possible, an employer should spread out bimonthly payments over an equal number of days (e.g., on the first and 15th of each month).

An employer must designate paydays consistent with state law. If, however, an employer does not designate paydays, paydays will default to the first and 15th of each month. If an employee is absent on payday, he or she must be paid on demand.

Wage Deductions

Under state law, wages may be withheld only when the employer:

  • Is required to do so by state or federal law (e.g., IRS withholding);
  • Is ordered to do so by a court (e.g., child support payments); or
  • Has the employee's written authorization for the deduction and, then, only for a lawful purpose (e.g., for health or retirement benefits, uniforms, cash shortages or damage or breakage to property).

Written employee authorizations must meet certain requirements.

Pay Statements

At the end of each pay period, an employer must give each employee a written earnings statement covering the pay period that contains the following information:

  • Employee's name;
  • Pay rate;
  • Total pay earned for the pay period;
  • Deductions made and purpose of the deductions;
  • Net pay after deductions are made; and
  • Total number of hours worked (if pay is based on hours worked) or units produced (if pay is based on a piece rate).

Health Care Continuation

Texas group health plans issued to employers generally require that continuation coverage be extended for nine months to individuals not covered by the federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) (i.e., employed by an employer with fewer than 20 employees) and for an additional six months following COBRA coverage to individuals covered by federal COBRA. Dependent coverage may be extended for up to three years under certain circumstances.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on pay and benefits practices in Texas can be found in Payment of Wages: Texas, Involuntary and Voluntary Pay Deductions: Texas, Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Texas, Texas Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Texas? Federal requirements can be found in Payment of Wages: Federal, Involuntary and Voluntary Pay Deductions: Federal and Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Federal.

Time Off and Leaves of Absence

Texas has several laws relating to required time off and leaves of absence for employees, which cover all employers. These laws include:

  • Jury duty leave;
  • Court attendance leave;
  • Military leave;
  • Emergency evacuation leave;
  • Voting leave; and
  • Political leave.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on time off and leaves of absence practices in Texas can be found in the Texas Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Jury Duty: Texas, USERRA: Texas, Other Leaves: Texas and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Texas? Federal requirements can be found in Jury Duty: Federal, USERRA: Federal and Other Leaves: Federal.

Health and Safety

Key Texas requirements impacting health and safety are:

Weapons in the Workplace

An employer has the right to prohibit individuals with a valid license from carrying a handgun on its premises. The employer must communicate orally or in writing that entering or remaining on the property with a handgun is forbidden. Written communication may be provided in the form of a card or other document, or a clear and conspicuous sign. The law includes specific language and signage requirements.

Safe Driving Practices

Texas prohibits the use of a wireless communication device to read, write or send an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle unless the vehicle is stopped.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on health and safety practices in Texas can be found in the Texas Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Workplace Security: Texas, HR and Workplace Safety: Texas and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Texas?. Federal requirements can be found in Workplace Security: Federal and HR and Workplace Safety (OSHA Compliance): Federal.

Organizational Exit

Key Texas requirements impacting organizational exit are:

Final Pay

An employee who quits must be paid in full by the next regularly scheduled payday.

An employee who is terminated must be paid in full within six days of the termination date.

Accrued vacation, sick leave and paid time off (PTO) must be paid upon separation from employment only if a written agreement or written employer policy specifically provides for payment of such benefits.

References

A Texas employer that releases information about a current or former employee to a prospective employer is immune from civil liability, unless it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that:

  • The employer knew the information was false at the time the disclosure was made or
  • The disclosure was made with malice or in reckless disregard for the truth or falsity of the information.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on organizational exit practices in Texas can be found in Payment of Wages: Texas, Performance Appraisals: Texas and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Texas? Federal requirements can be found in Payment of Wages: Federal and Performance Appraisals: Federal.