Many times over the years, I have been asked or told that what the employer did was not fair.  The employee will tell me how they were fired with just one warning.  The employee explains that the employee handbook clearly says the employer must have three written warnings "before they can fire you."  

"Well," I reply in my calmest voice, "those employee handbooks are usually not binding."  If they contain provisions that this handbook is not binding or is not a contract, then the handbook is not binding.  That means the handbook’s requirement of three written warnings is not binding.  I then go through the various other possibilities regarding how three written warnings might be binding.  As usual, none of those other possibilities apply to the average employee.  So, yes, I must tell the employee, those requirements for three written warnings mean nothing.  They are not binding.  "Yes," I add, "an employer can fire you with one written warning, or even with no  written warning."  

This is known as "at-will" employment."  At-will employment is the general rule in Texas and most other states.  An employer can fire a person for a bad reason or for no reason.  There are only a few very limited exceptions to at-will employment in Texas.  At this point, I always add, that at-will employment may not be fair, but it is the law in Texas.  

At some point, I explain that the other side of the coin is that an employee can quit whenever s/he wishes.  But, somehow, I do not think that is what they wanted to hear……