Frequently Asked Questions

Working with the Cook Law Firm

Do You Provide Free Consultations?

Unfortunately, we do not have the time or resources to provide free consultations. As we receive hundreds of calls and emails from potential clients every year, we simply do not have the time to meet or talk with everyone that contacts our firm. However, if you believe that you might have a case that our firm can handle, we hope that you will fill out and submit a Case Review Form that provides details about your case. We will review this form for free, and if we believe we can handle your case, will contact you quickly to set up a phone call or meeting. If we believe we can handle your case on a contingency basis or hourly basis, we will let you know at that time.   

What is a Paid Consultation?

Paid consultations are for individuals that need legal advice for a specific employment situation or document. For example, we provide paid consultations for individuals who need a contract, severance agreement, or non-compete reviewed, and who need advice and counsel regarding that document. We also provide paid consultations for individuals who need advice on how to handle a specific situation at work, such as a how to negotiate a departure from a difficult employment situation or how to blow the whistle on illegal activity. In our paid consultations, we provide an explanation of the law, application to your facts, and develop a strategy on how best to handle your situation. While all situations are different, most consultations last 1-2 hours and are billed on an hourly basis.

What is the Case Review Form?

The Case Review Form is a form that you fill out to provide details about your case. We have designed the Form to provide the most important details we believe are necessary for an evaluation of your case. The more information you provide, the easier it is for us to fairly evaluate your case. We will gladly review the form for free and let you know if we think that we can handle your case. If we can, we will contact you promptly to set up a further discussion. If we cannot, we try our best to provide some referral for your matter.

Do You Work on a Contingency Basis?

Yes. Whether we can handle a matter on a contingency basis depends on the case, but we regularly handle cases on a contingency basis. Typically, if we can handle the case, we let the client decide whether to pay for services on an hourly basis or a contingency basis. A contingency fee is payment based on a percentage of what our firm recovers for you, after deduction for costs and expenses. If we recover nothing, you owe us nothing.

Employment Law in Texas

Texas is an “At-Will” State. What Does That Mean?

“At-will” employment generally means that an employer may terminate an employee for good reason, bad reason, or no reason at all. It also means that an employee may quit at any time without any notice at all. However, as discussed below, employers may not terminate an employee for an illegal reason. The vast majority of employees in Texas are “at-will” employees. Individuals that have employment contracts with their employers–typically formal documents limiting the conditions under which an employee may be fired–are the primary exception to this rule.

If Texas is an “At-Will” State, What Rights Do I Have?

Even though “at-will” employment means an employer can fire an employee for a bad reason or no reason, it cannot fire an employee for an illegal reason. Federal laws and Texas laws provide a number of limitations to at-will employment. For example, employers cannot discriminate against employees on the basis of a number of protected categories, including age, sex, pregnancy, race, religion, and national origin. Similarly, employees are protected against retaliation for a variety of protected actions. The protections for employees are numerous but do not cover all employees in all situations. To discover if the law protects your situation, you should speak with an experienced employment lawyer that knows and is experienced with the numerous laws that provide protections for employees.

What is Wrongful Termination?

In Texas, there really is no such thing as a legal protection for a “wrongful termination.” This is one of the more common myths I come across each day. Unfortunately, we speak with many people every year who were fired for wrongful, if not terrible, reasons, but there are no legal protections in their case. Because Texas is an “at-will” employment state, an employee only has protection if the “wrongful termination” is also an illegal termination. As discussed above, a termination is only illegal if it is specifically prohibited by a certain law, such as the law that you cannot fire someone because of their age.

General Employment Law Information

My Employment Lawyer. A comprehensive web site offering detailed information regarding employment law and providing a resource for employees to ask employment attorneys questions over the internet.

Workplace Fairness. A national non-profit organization advocating on behalf of employee rights and providing employment law related information to employees and their advocates.

National Employment Lawyers Association. National organization of employment lawyers advocating employee rights and workplace fairness.

Texas Employment Lawyers Association.  Texas organization of employment lawyer advocating employee rights and workplace fairness.

Unpaid Overtime Information

United States Department of Labor, Overtime Pay Web Site.  Providing information on when employees are due overtime pay.

Workplace Discrimination Information

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Official Web Site of the EEOC, providing detailed information on equal employment opportunity laws and their enforcement.

Texas Workforce Commission, Civil Rights Division. Providing information regarding Texas equal employment opportunity laws.

U.C. Hastings College of Law, Worklife Law Web Site. Providing information regarding Family Responsibilities Discrimination.

Texas Unemployment Information

Texas Workforce Commission, Unemployment Benefits. Information for employees seeking unemployment benefits.