Texas has at-will employment, which means that both employers and employees are generally free to terminate their relationship at any time.

There are, of course, some exceptions to that rule. You only generally hear about them when they end up causing a lawsuit. Most of the time, an employee ends up suing an employer — but it is possible for things to go the other way around.

There are several different ways that people end up on the wrong end of a civil lawsuit with their former employer. Here are some of the most common ways people get into trouble:

  • They forget about the terms of their contract. If you had a contract with your employer, you may be obligated to see it to the bitter end. Alternately, you may owe your employer a notice. If your abrupt departure caused problems with a project or otherwise caused the company financial distress, you could be on the hook.
  • They disregard the noncompete agreement: Don’t confuse the “right to work” or “at-will employment” with a right to do whatever you want. If you have a valid noncompete agreement that keeps you from going into competition with your employer, you can be sued for violating it.
  • They share proprietary information with a competitor. It’s one thing when an employee with valuable skills goes to work for a competitor, but it’s entirely another when that employee takes valuable knowledge about your methods or products with them. If you violate a confidentiality agreement, you most likely will get sued.

What should you do if your former employer makes threats?

If you could potentially be facing a lawsuit from a former employer, don’t try to handle the issue on your own. That could lead to more trouble if you say the wrong thing. Talk to a Dallas attorney to find out the pros and cons of your position and what steps you need to take next.