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Can an Employee Be Fired For a DUI?

By Walton Law APCNovember 15, 2023January 2nd, 2024No Comments

Can an Employee Be Fired For a DUI?

A criminal conviction can have a domino effect on many parts of your life such as moving into specific locations, obtaining loans, securing professional certifications, or seeking employment. Sometimes, people are dismissive of DUIs as compared to other types of crimes. But if it’s a criminal conviction, regardless of the type, it can affect your employment or job-seeking opportunities.

State law varies when it comes to whether it’s illegal for an employer to inquire about an individual’s criminal history until after they provide a job offer. This is based on the rationale that employers should be free to blindly evaluate an applicant without muddying the waters with the knowledge of a conviction. While California does have some protections in place for job applicants and employees when it comes to this issue, not all areas are protected. Read on to learn about how a criminal conviction, (including one for a DUI) impacts employment.

DUI Conviction

If you have a conviction for driving under the influence (DUI), then that conviction will become part of your criminal record. Unless it has been expunged or sealed, your criminal record is available to the public, and an employer is allowed to ask about criminal records as soon as an employee has been offered the job. However, juvenile records and sealed records are protected from disclosure.

Additionally, employers are allowed to conduct their background search to see if an applicant or a current employee has a criminal record. While most employers can’t ask about criminal convictions, such as a DUI until a conditional offer has been made, certain employers, such as a criminal justice agency are permitted to do so.

What Employers Can Do

California has “at-will” employment, so unless an employee is protected via an employment contract’s terms, their employer can fire them anytime, for any reason (or no reason at all), as long as the reason isn’t illegal, such as discrimination or retaliation for whistleblowing or exercising a legal right, such as using family leave.

While employers can’t discriminate based on protected characteristics (gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, etc.), convicted criminals are not a protected class; no law prohibits employers from terminating an employee based on their criminal history.

What Employers Can’t Do

  • In California, employers aren’t even allowed to ask about arrests: An employer may not ask employees to disclose information about arrests or detentions that did not result in a conviction.
  • An employer may not base an employment decision or a condition of employment (job offer, promotion, bonus) on a record of arrest or detention that did not result in a conviction.
  • An employer may not ask employees to disclose a juvenile arrest or adjudication information.
  • An employer may not ask employees to disclose information concerning pretrial or post-trial diversion programs or concerning convictions that have been judicially dismissed or sealed by law.

 Talk to a Labor and Employment Attorney Today

If you’re a California employee who needs help with wrongful workplace termination or other wage and hour disputes, then get in touch with one of our experienced lawyers. A Walton Law attorney can give you helpful insight into your case. Contact us today.