If you believe you may have been discriminated against in employment due to participating in an emergency evacuation, you may submit a discrimination complaint in a court of appropriate jurisdiction. If an employee wishes to pursue his or her claim in court, the State Bar of Texas Lawyer Referral Information Service may be able to assist with locating an attorney. They can be reached at 800-252-9690.

Under Texas Labor Code Chapter 22 (Chapter 22), an employer may not discharge or in any other manner discriminate against an employee who leaves the employee's place of employment to participate in a general public evacuation ordered under an emergency evacuation order.

A disaster is the occurrence or imminent threat of widespread or severe damage, injury, or loss of life or property that results from a natural or man-made cause, including fire, flood, earthquake, wind, storm, wave action, oil spill or other water contamination, volcanic activity, epidemic, air contamination, blight, drought, infestation, explosion, riot, hostile military or paramilitary action, or other public calamity requiring emergency action, or an energy emergency.

An Emergency Evaluation Order is an official statement issued by the governing body of this state or a political subdivision of this state to recommend the evacuation of all or part of the population of an area stricken or threatened with a disaster.  The term includes a declaration of local disaster under Section 418.108, Government Code.

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A person discharged in violation of Chapter 22 Section 22.002 is entitled to reinstatement in the same or an equivalent position of employment with commensurate pay.

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Chapter 22 does not apply to Emergency services personnel if the employer provides adequate emergency shelter for those individuals.  Emergency Personnel includes fire fighters, police officers and other peace officers, emergency medical technicians, and other individuals who are required, in the course and scope of their employment, to provide services for the benefit of the general public during emergency situations.

This chapter does not apply to a person who is necessary to provide for the safety and well-being of the general public, including a person necessary for the restoration of vital services.

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An employer who violates Section 22 is liable for any loss of wages and employer-provided benefits incurred by the employee as a result of the violation.

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