What is moral turpitude under Texas state law? Dallas and Fort Worth employment lawyer answers
Moral turpitude is an old legal term that simply means depraved or immoral. It most commonly includes particular crimes, as in crimes of moral turpitude. The phrase has mostly been abandoned as we transitioned away from a moral-based legal system to a rights-based legal system. Crimes of moral turpitude are crimes of depravity. These include crimes of fraud, reckless behavior or creating an unjustified risk to the life and safety of others. Employment lawyers in Texas help clients with these issues in employment law settings.
Contract issues with moral turpitude in Texas
This phrase often makes its way into employment contracts as a condition that destroys the contract. If the employee commits a crime of moral turpitude, the employer has the right to terminate the contract. This typically means if the employee suffers conviction of a crime of depravity then the employer can fire the employee. A moral turpitude clause is likely going to apply to crimes in the categories listed above. The vagueness opens the door to terminate employees for violent crimes, fraud, drunk driving and other crimes. While the term is vague enough to apply to low level crimes it’s most likely applied to more serious crimes.
Texas employment law and moral turpitude
There is a legitimate reason for employers to implement moral turpitude clauses. When employers enter into contracts with their employees, the agreement binds the parties. Absent the moral turpitude clause an employer might have to continue employing an employee committing fraud or endangering others. (Or pay damages to breach the contract and terminate the employee.) While you might think that what an employee does outside of the company is no business of the employer that is not always the case. Public attention to these crimes may put the employer in a bad light. That is why media personalities and sports players often have these terms in their contracts. Additionally, those crimes of fraud, theft, recklessness may occur outside of the workplace but those bad character traits may appear in the workplace and the employer has a legitimate interest in keeping those behaviors away.
At-will employees (have not signed an employment contract) may also be subject to termination for crimes of moral turpitude. It is entirely possible that the employment handbook, code of conduct, or other document governing behavior in the workplace contains a notice that the employer may terminate employees for conviction of such crimes. It is important to note that at-will employees may lose jobs for any reason not prohibited by law, which means even if no employment document discusses crimes of moral turpitude the employer may nevertheless terminate employment for that reason.
Fort Worth and Dallas employment lawyers
Employment lawyers in Dallas, Texas and Fort Worth, Texas help clients deal with employment law problems including breach of contract and wrongful termination. Employment law situations, especially with contracts, often require analysis of legal rules regarding contracts and detailed analysis of the facts involved. Texas employment lawyers have the knowledge and experience to help you resolve a contract or wrongful termination case. Visit the employment law page for more information.