St. Mary's Law Journal
The Texas Legislature should reject the employment-at-will doctrine in Texas. A carefully crafted new law could be created through the assessment of both the Montana Wrongful Discharge from Employment Act and the Model Employment Termination Act (“META”), approved by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Law. Texas recognizes common-law and statutory exceptions to the employment-at-will doctrine. However, the statutory and common-law exceptions to the employment-at-will doctrine do not swallow the rule; instead, they constitute random, narrow efforts affording employees few protections while requiring employers to defend their decisions on a costly, piecemeal basis.
The Montana Employment Act protects non-probationary employees discharged for refusing to violate or reporting a violation of public policy, or administrative rule concerning public health, safety, or welfare. META differs from the Montana statute by being far more precise in its description of probation, if not broader in its effect. Enacting a Texas wrongful discharge statute, based on the better defined and more flexible Model Act, merits serious consideration because the changes in the fluctuating state of employment law will be more controlled through the legislative process. META represents a trade-off of the common-law causes of action and their attendant damage awards, now available as a practical matter to a very few employees, for smaller, predictable awards. Ultimately, a Texas wrongful discharge statute based on META's terms could provide a workable and systematic improvement over the current haphazard, yet expanding, scope of wrongful discharge law.
Bonita K. Roberts, The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same: The Employment-At-Will Doctrine In Texas, 25 St. Mary's L.J. 435 (1993).