The Texas labor board is formally known as the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). It handles labor complaints for a variety of reasons, including protected class discrimination, complaints regarding unpaid wages, child labor law, and minimum wage law.
Employees in Texas can also file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which enforces federal statutes prohibiting discrimination based on protected classes. For complaints about health and safety standards at work, employees should contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Employment Discrimination Law in Texas
The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice is the body that enforces federal discrimination laws in Texas and all other states. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission%2C%20disability%20or%20genetic%20information.) (EEOC), it is illegal to discriminate in employment based on certain protected classes:
- Age (40 years old and older).
- Disability (physical or mental).
- Genetic information, including family history.
- National origin.
- Sex, including childbirth, pregnancy and related medical conditions.
- Sexual orientation (LGBT and trans people under Title VII).
Texas also prohibits discrimination based on the protected classes under state law, except that the state does not have a law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Some municipalities like Austin do prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Filing Complaints With the Texas Workforce Commission
The department of labor for Texas is the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). Employees can file employment discrimination complaints with this agency if they worked at a Texas company with at least 15 employees. The discrimination incident must have occurred in the 180 days prior to submitting the complaint.
A complainant can download a discrimination complaint form from the TWC’s Civil Rights Division and file it online. They can also write a complaint to submit in person by email or mail. The TWC does not accept phone calls. Once the TWC signs off on complaint, it may go to mediation or investigation. The TWC will also send the complaint to the EEOC.
If an employee believes they are the victim of discrimination they can contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by phone at 800-669-4000 or the TWC's Civil Rights Division by calling 888-452-4778.
Filing a Complaint With the U.S. Department of Labor
An employee who thinks they have been discriminated against can also file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage & Hour Division (DOL). This federal government agency has a longer time period than does the TWC – up to two years. The DOL keeps all claims confidential, so the worker’s employer will not know that they filed a complaint.
The DOL can also investigate a business’ payroll procedures, however, a TWC wage claim covers only the individual worker that filed the complaint. Claimants can contact that DOL’s Wage & Hour Division at 866-487-9243 or through its website.
Complaint Process for Unemployment Benefit Issues
Other reasons for a claimant to contact the TWC with complaints include:
- Issues with unemployment benefits. Claimants can get contact information from TWC and by using the chat portal at the bottom right of their web page.
- Inquiries about impending appeals about UI benefits. Claimants can check their appeals status online by visiting TWC’s Unemployment Benefit Services, logging on and selecting “View Appeal Status.”
- Claimants can report fraud and identity theft claims to TWC’s Identity Theft Page.
Unpaid Wages, Minimum Wage Laws and Child Labor Laws
A worker who believes that they have wage issues can file a complaint with TWC’s Wage and Hour Department. The department answers questions about employee wage payments, child labor laws and the Texas Minimum Wage Act.
If a company does not pay a worker what they’re owed within a reasonable time, they can file a wage claim with the agency online using the form on the TWC webpage. Wage claims must be filed within 180 days of the date payment was due. Claimants can request information and file a complaint with TWC’s Wage and Hour Department at 800-832-9243.
Reporting Workplace Issues in Texas
Workplace safety issues in Texas fall under the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). Employers in the Lone Star State must provide workers with a healthful and safe workplace.
An employee or their representative has the right to file a confidential complaint asking OSHA to conduct an inspection of their workplace if they believe the employer is not following OSHA standards or there is a serious workplace hazard.
How to Submit a Complaint
The employee should file the complaint as soon they notice the hazard or discover that the employer is not following OSHA rules. Employees can submit complaints in several ways:
- Online, using OSHA’s Complaint Form.
- By fax, mail or email using the complaint form, or by writing a letter and mailing it or emailing it to an OSHA office in Texas.
- By phone through a local Texas OSHA office or at 800-321-6742 (OSHA).
- By visiting a local OSHA office in person.
OSHA's whistleblower protection laws prohibit retaliation against workers who complain about their workplace conditions or exercise their employee rights under the Act. Depending on the particular OSHA law, the deadline to file a complaint varies from 30 days to 180 days. The time starts when the employer takes the retaliatory action.
- Legal Beagle: OSHA Requirements for Offices
- EEOC: Prohibited Employment Policies/Practices
- Equality Texas: Non-Discrimination
- TWC: PowerForm Signer Information
- TWC: Employee Rights and Laws
- USDOL: Essential Protections for Essential Workers
- TWC: Contact Information
- TWC: Unemployment Benefits Services
- TWC: Unemployment Benefits Identity Fraud
- TWC: How to Submit a Wage Claim Under Texas Payday Law
- OSHA: OSHA Online Complaint Form
- OSHA: OSHA Offices by State
- OSHA: OSHA ONLINE WHISTLEBLOWER COMPLAINT FORM
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.