Even if your company violates their own policies and procedures that does not mean they are liable for wrongful termination.

In Houston Methodist San Jacinto Hospital v. Ford, 483 S.W.3d 588 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2015), the employee claimed that she was being sexually harassed. Under the law of sexual harassment the sexual harassment must be either sever or pervasive. The employee claimed that while this was the “legal” standard the companies own policies and procedures lowered that standard so that sexual harassment included behavior that was below “severe and pervasive. Unfortunately for the employee the court rejected her argument that conduct not “severe or pervasive” under the usual standards of harassment law should be illegal harassment if it violated the employer’s own policy. The Court stated that an employer’s policy cannot in itself expand the scope of what is prohibited by the law. As an El Paso employment lawyer I often have people who come in to see me who are shocked that they cannot sue their employer for wrongful termination if they can show the employer violated its own policies and procedures. But this has been the law for some time that a companies policies and procedures are for internal use and do not expand the law. However, in a retaliation case the violation by the employer of its own policies and procedures can be used to show that the termination was not for good cause but was for retaliation. Also in general discrimination cases the evidence that the employer violated its own policies and procedures is nearly always relevant to show that the reason given for the termination or disciplinary action was false.

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