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Criminal Defense – How Do Charges Affect My Employment Status?

Sometimes, we are in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

If you find yourself on the wrong side of an arrest or criminal charge, there are a lot of obstacles you have to face. Regardless of the nature of the arrest, many facets of your life can change. One area of concern that may arise is your job security. 

Despite your best efforts to be a solid, dependable employee, you may be worried about how your pending criminal charges and employment will be connected moving forward. Even if your arrest had nothing to do with your job, it could affect your employment status. This is an understandable worry. Keep reading to learn how an arrest can affect your job. 

Remember, it’s crucial to contact an experienced defense lawyer as soon as possible for advice on handling criminal charges. Our articles are not a substitute for legal advice. 

Pending Criminal Charges and Employment: Will I Be Fired?

If you or a loved one have been arrested and are facing criminal charges, you may wonder if there are any protections against being fired until proven guilty or innocent. In most cases, there are few protections against being fired by your employer after being arrested. 

Most forms of employment are considered “at-will,” meaning that the employer can terminate the employee at any time for any reason, and an employee can leave a job anytime for any reason. While there are a few ways this arrangement can be modified, like a contract, at-will employment is commonplace in most states and workplaces. If you are arrested, your employer can fire you.

Your employer should carefully review all of the facts before deciding to keep or terminate you, as an unfair firing could risk tarnishing their reputation. Many companies have conduct policies that help supervisors make these decisions.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), an employer should not refuse to hire someone because they have an arrest record. It’s best practice to explore the conduct surrounding an arrest when reviewing a potential candidate for a job. 

So, in the case of a current employee, it’s in your employer’s best interest to do the same. Your supervisor may ask you questions about the nature of your arrest and charges. It’s best that you don’t discuss your case with anyone without a lawyer present. If your employer is interested in learning more about your case, kindly request to speak to your lawyer first to know what you should and should not say. Turning your employer or coworkers into unwitting witnesses will complicate your case.

Is It Discrimination?

There is one case where a firing could be subject to a wrongful termination case. A firing could be considered discrimination if it is based on one of these protected attributes:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National origin
  • Sex 
  • Sexual orientation
  • Religion
  • Disability
  • Pregnancy 
  • Age

How does this apply to being arrested and getting fired? Suppose you are in one or more of these protected groups and are fired after an arrest while an employee who is not a part of one of these groups was not fired for a similar circumstance. In that case, your employer may have unfairly discriminated against you. Outside of this specific instance, however, it is difficult to prove discrimination on the part of your employer after you’ve been arrested. 

What Should I Do If I’ve Been Arrested or Charged with a Crime?

Getting arrested does not mean you will be automatically fired or protected from being fired. There is a lot of nuance regarding these situations. If you’ve been arrested, it’s essential to contact an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible. An experienced defense attorney can advise you on work-related matters affected by your arrest while offering excellent representation in the courtroom. 

The legal team at Eng & Woods attorneys at law can do just that. Our team has experience advocating for people in difficult situations that have completely upended their lives. We offer award-winning service and have delivered favorable judgments to our clients. 

Don’t wait; visit our contact page today to get in touch with our staff and see how we can help.

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    903 E. Ash Street
    Columbia, Missouri 65201
    Phone: 573-874-4190
    Fax: 573-874-4192
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