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Does my government employment guarantee me due process?

Every American citizen has a right to due process. That's the concept under the Constitution that says that the government can't treat any individual unfairly or arbitrarily. We may think that this theory of law only applies to someone charged with a criminal offense, but it also is one that applies in other areas of our lives.

In broad terms, the right to due process means citizens can't be deprived of life, liberty or property interest. But in the realm of government employment, a person may be deemed to have a property interest in their job. As a result, a person in Texas who loses a government job without the benefit of due process may have a claim of wrongful termination.

However, experienced federal employee attorneys know that not every government employee is entitled to due process protections all the time. That right only exists when a property interest exists and that is present when:

  • A contractual agreement, either written or implied, says the interest exists
  • Statute or policy establishes such an interest for the worker or
  • A precedent of granting employees a property interest has been set by the employer's previous practices

When those conditions are met, due process is supposed to rule. And that means that any employee who may be targeted for dismissal must get adequate advance notice of the action. They must also be granted a hearing at which the government must show that the dismissal is justifiable. That hearing also presents the worker the opportunity to make a case for why firing is inappropriate.

Making the best case possible requires understanding all the laws and their nuances, so consulting an attorney is always recommended.

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