Employee contracts serve a very important purpose here in the state of Texas. We are an "at-will employment" state, which means that a company or worker can terminate their employment relationship at any time for any reason -- unless they have entered into a contract. This contract sets forth new rules, which both parties agree to, that override the base laws set forth under "at-will employment" guidelines.
There are a number of exceptions to the rule, whether a contract is in place or not. For example, if someone is fired and they did not have a contract, well then that would be perfectly fine as defined by at-will employment laws. However, if it can be proven that discrimination (based on any factor -- age, race, religion, gender, etc.) was at the root of the firing, then the former employee absolutely has grounds to fight the termination of their employment. Even if a contract is in place, discrimination cannot be the basis for action against an employee.
Discrimination doesn't seem to be a factor in the current criminal predicament of a Halliburton senior vice president, but the presence of an employment contract (or potential lack thereof) certainly pertains to the situation.
The executive was caught in a prostitution sting recently, putting his tenure with Halliburton in jeopardy. Most employment contracts include a clause that can be triggered if the employee is involved with criminal activity. The provision can be a bit touchy, though -- does an arrest warrant activation of the clause? Or must the employee be convicted first before action can be taken?
Depending on how thorough the contract was written regarding this clause, legal action could be taken.
Source: Houston Business Journal, "Texas law or contract might determine Halliburton arrest response," Deon Daugherty, Oct. 17, 2012