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What School Staff Need to Know About Employment Law Issues

employment law issues

Working in a public school means adhering to the laws set forth to protect students and their right to a free education. But it also means that the school must follow laws set forth to protect staff rights. If you face any employment law issues for school personnel in Texas, an education employment lawyer may be able to help. You have rights, either as an educator, an administrator, or in any other position in a school. And if your rights are violated, you can seek justice. 

Understanding Employment Law Issues for School Personnel

Employment law for public schools is similar to many other government employment jobs. There are, however, a few laws that are specific to school employees themselves. It’s important that you understand your rights as an employee so you can ensure they are protected. If your school fails to provide a safe workplace, for example, you may be able to seek compensation and other legal action.

Contract Laws

Most public schools hire educators and administrators through contracts. There are three main contracts that your employment could fall under. Contracts help ensure that you have job security for the designated amount of time. However, there could be times when you are let go or fired for unlawful reasons. In these cases, you have the right to request a hearing with the school board to defend your case. While each type of contract has the right to a hearing, it’s still important to understand the difference between each one:

  • Probationary Contract – New teachers, especially those who are new to the district, are typically under a probationary contract for one to four years. While the probationary contract has more wiggle room for ending employment, you still have the same rights to a hearing or a grievance report as other employees.
  • Term Contract – Most schools hire teachers and administrators on a term contract. These contracts typically ensure employment for one or two years, with a renewal after the contract is up. Schools must notify employees of a nonrenewal stance at least ten days prior to the last day of instruction. At this point, employees can request a hearing to challenge the nonrenewal.
  • Continuing Contract – A few employees may be hired on a continuing contract. These contracts only end through lawful dismissal, resignation, or retirement. Similar to a tenure in college, continuing contracts tend to provide the most job protection and security.

Employee Rights

Regardless of which contract applies, you have certain rights as a government employee. These rights are:

  • A state minimum salary schedule
  • A 30-minute duty-free lunch*
  • At least five days of personal leave
  • At least 450 minutes of planning and prep time every two weeks
  • Right to resign without board approval (must be done in writing at least 45 days before the first day of instruction)

*In some cases, districts may roll back your right to a duty-free lunch due to staffing issues or sudden illnesses. The laws about duty-free lunches tend to be vague and thin, but you may have the right to file a complaint with the help of a lawyer. 

If you feel like your employer violated your rights, talk to an education employment lawyer to see what legal actions you can take. 

Family and Medical Leave Act

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) helps protect your employment and health benefits when faced with family or medical emergencies. A common FMLA occurrence would be having a baby. Employees have the right to receive up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under FMLA. Although you may not be working or receiving pay, schools still must ensure you have access to your healthcare benefits. The school must also safeguard your employment. If you are fired or dismissed while on leave, you may have the right to take legal action.

Workplace Injury

Schools aren’t at the top of the list for most dangerous workplace environments, but they can be the cause of some serious injuries to employees. Your school has the responsibility to provide a safe and protective environment for both students and employees. If you suffer an injury while performing your duties, you may be able to seek compensation through workers’ compensation or insurance. 

Need Help with Employment Law Issues?

If your rights as a school employee were violated, you have the right to seek justice. At the Hager Law Firm, we have experienced lawyers ready to help respond to any employment law issues for school personnel. Call us today at (903) 466-0001 or send an email to to schedule a consultation about your case.

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