I supervised a department and followed all instructions from Senior management, but was told simply that because goals were not met, I was being let go. I had never been written up or placed on any type f performance management. There was no insubordination involved. The HR rep indicated that I would be eligible for unemployment insurance. I am a 53 yr old white male and was replaced the next day by a 30 year old black male who was a personal friend of the director. Should I file a lawsuit ?
Employee Benefits Lawyer
Texas is a right to work state. Typically, unless an employee has an employment contract, or is employed under a collective bargaining agreement through a union, the employer can modify or terminate the employment at any time with or without cause. If an employer, at any time, decides they no longer want to employ someone, for any non-discriminatory reason, that employee can legally be terminated. However, an employer generally cannot terminate an employee for prohibited discriminatory reasons (such as racial discrimination), or in retaliation for certain protected actions (such as whistle-blowing).
Texas Labor Code Chapter 21 (Chapter 21) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) forbid discrimination against people who are age 40 or older. However, age discrimination claims arising from termination of an older worker and replacement with a younger worker are often very difficult to win. I have provided links to web pages from the Texas Workforce Commission and the EEOC on this subject. If you feel you have been discriminated against because of your age, you should consult an experienced labor and employment attorney.
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Your employer is not required by law to provide a prior warning, or to put you any kind of written notice or performance management program. Failure of performance is the usual description of terminations for not meeting performance goals and that is a lawful basis for termination if it is not a subterfuge.
It does not matter that the person hired to replace you is different race, and it does not matter that person is a friend of the employer or manager. In fact, the fact of the friendship tends to support a conclusion that your termination was not based on age but may have been based on dissatisfaction with you and the availability of a person management had more confidence in.
A very difficult case for you. By all means make a timely application for unemployment benefits.
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Employment / Labor Attorney
You may have a case of either (or both) age or race discrimination. The fact that you were fired without any prior corrective action does not necessarily mean an illegal form of discrimination occurred. They may have just decided they didn't like the work you were doing. An employer is not required to follow a progressive disciplinary procedure and if it has one, it is not required to follow it. However, if there is a progressive policy and the employer did not follow it then that would suggest the employer's reason may not be true. Instead of age or race, it may just be the case that the director really wanted to hire his or her friend and had to get you out to do it. That would not be an illegal form of discrimination.
Still, your situation is suspicious and age and/or race may have played a role. You do need to apply for unemployment benefits but you also need to talk to an employment lawyer about your situation.
Employment / Labor Attorney
What you have described is a prima facie race discrimination case, particularly if your former. employer has a progressive disciplinary policy. The fact that you had never been written up, placed on a PMP, and replaced by a person outside your protected class, never place on notice that you would be discharged if you did not meet the goals and given a chance to improve your numbers.
The first step is to preserve your rights by filing an EEOC charge or hiring able counsel to prepare your charge, negotiate a settlement and or separation agreement that compensates you for your loss and/ or seek reinstatement. The lawsuit is filed. only after exhausting efforts to reach an amicable resolution. Consult with counsel.