Firing An Employee for Refusal to Perform An Illegal Act In Texas

In Texas, an employee who does not have a written contract for employment may be terminated at will and without cause. See Sabine Pilot Serv., Inc. v. Hauck, 687 S.W.2d 733, 734 (Tex. 1985). Texas does not recognize a private whistleblower cause of action. See Austin v. HealthTrust, Inc. - the Hosp. Co., 967 S.W.2d 400, 403 (Tex. 1998). A very narrow exception to the employment-at-will doctrine provides that an employee may bring an action for wrongful discharge if the employee is discharged for the sole reason that the employee refused to perform an illegal act. See Sabine Pilot, 687 S.W.2d 733. In order to prevail under this exception, a plaintiff must "prove by a preponderance of evidence that his discharge was for no reason other than his refusal to perform an illegal act." Id. at 735.