Can a DUI Affect Employment?
A DUI conviction is not supposed to prohibit an otherwise qualified candidate from being hired, however, an employer has a right to question the potential employee about the circumstances of the charge. Of course, an employee whose job responsibilities include driving may be unable to maintain or pursue this type of employment because of the increased expense for insurance that would be needed to cover the employee.
Background Checks and Federal Laws
As a DUI lawyer Salt Lake City UT turns to can explain, federal laws have been put in place which prohibit an employer from barring a job applicant for a position based only on their drunk driving charge unless there is a valid reason why it would not benefit the company to hire the applicant.
Many people who have been convicted of a DUI may not realize that not only does the DUI conviction remain on their criminal records, but the Fair Credit Reporting Act also allows DUI arrests to stay on their record for up to seven years even if they were not convicted.
Background Checks and State Laws
Each state has its own laws regarding what employers can and cannot do regarding job applicant background checks, but many states have enacted laws which prohibit employers from not hiring an applicant based only on their DUI conviction. The exception is if the employer can show that the conviction is relevant to the job the applicant is applying for. Many states do have different laws on DUI convictions when it comes to positions at daycare centers, nursing homes, and other specific facilities. These laws do allow employers to not hire an applicant based solely on the DUI conviction.
Unlike other industries, the rules about DUI convictions in the transportation industry are handled differently. If an employee is convicted of drunk driving, the employer can suspend or terminate the employee if they feel it is in the best interest of the company. There are several reasons why an employer can choose to do this.
Having an employee with a DUI conviction exposes the employer to potentially devastating liability should there be an incident involving the employee. The company’s insurance rates could also spike because of the potential liability of the employee. In some cases, the company could transfer the employee or change their job description and duties so they would no longer be involved in operating any vehicles.
An at-will employee is one who can be terminated at any time for any reason. Therefore, if the employee is arrested or convicted of a DUI, the employer could dismiss the employee. There are really no protections for the employee other than federal laws which prohibit discrimination for any prior convictions. Once an employee is hired, there is nothing stopping the employer from making the decision to fire an employee because they have been arrested or convicted on another DUI charge.
For employees who are working under a contract that includes a clause about criminal arrests and/or convictions, they can be fired if they are facing new drunk driving charges.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Rasmussen & Miner for their added insight.