A former Texas police chief is now finding out how difficult life can be in the state when one lacks an employment contract. Texas is one of many “right to work” states, and when employees lack a contract, they are often at the mercy of their employer. For the former law enforcement man, the Montgomery City Council held authority over his termination, and when they wanted him out, he had little recourse.
A lawsuit was filed shortly after May, when the chief was relieved of his duties after receiving a unanimous vote of no confidence from the council. He complained in state court, asserting that his due process rights had been violated when the city used improper procedures to bring about his ouster.
Recently the city responded, asking the case to be sent to federal court. They have claimed that the chief lacked a valid complaint because, in a state like Texas, his employment rights were highly limited without a contract. Here, there is no breach of contract and no contract dispute because the chief was an at-will employee. Many high-profile employees are protected by contracts, but this is one situation that clearly shows the danger of proceeding without adequate contractual protection.
This story provides a clear picture of the employment prospects for employees in Texas who fail to secure their employment with a contract. While the chief may have had additional options under an employment agreement, he has been left with little recourse under the current arrangement, with Montgomery exercising its unilateral right to terminate his employment.
Source: The Courier, “Montgomery responds to dismissal lawsuit,” Brad Meyer, Sept. 19, 2013