When and What to Tell an Employer About Your Arrest in Georgia
If you have recently been arrested, you are probably scared to tell your employer and unsure whether or not you have to. Many of our clients worry about how a criminal record or arrest will affect their job. We frequently have clients ask if they should tell their employer about an arrest and when they should tell them. If you are arrested, it is no one's business but your own. However, there are some work-related situations where you should inform your employer. In addition, it is common for employers to ask about criminal history on a job application or request a background check. While an arrest is treated differently than a conviction, it may still come with consequences for employees. The way that an employer reacts in response depends on the nature of your job, state laws, the alleged crime, and the case against the employee.
It is important to understand that Georgia is an “employment-at-will” state. This means that an employer may terminate an employment relationship at any time and for any reason. This includes being charged with a crime, being arrested, or any other reason. Even though a charge is not the same as a conviction, your employer is not required to wait until the end of your case to fire you unless it is specifically outlined in your employee manual.
Required Arrest Reporting
Upon getting hired, many people receive a handbook or sign a contract detailing their obligations. In some circumstances, the handbook dictates that an employee must inform them of an arrest or criminal charges filed against them. Some employees have a contractual obligation to report any arrests. If this applies to you, then you must report the arrest. In our experience, businesses wait until the disposition of the case to determine how to handle it. Upon a finding of innocence or dropped charges, hopefully, your employer would forget the situation. If you are required to tell your boss and fail to do so, you may face serious consequences, including getting fired. If you are unsure whether your employer requires employees to report arrests, this information can usually be found in:
- The employee handbook
- The company code of conduct
- Your employment contract
- The company website
- The human resource department
Professionals such as doctors, physical therapists, dentist, nurses, realtors, pharmacists, and other people licensed by the State of Georgia must report arrests when they renew their professional license.
If you are a law student and have been arrested, you must report the arrest. Law school students must complete a character fitness application prior to taking the bar exam. On the application, it requests information about prior arrests. Law students must report any arrest on their application. Failure to disclose an arrest can permanently prohibit the student from ever taking the bar exam.
Some employers only require reporting of a conviction. Therefore, you would not be required to report an arrest unless you are convicted. Reporting requirements vary by state and by employer. Do not assume that you have no obligation to report because a friend at a similar job did not have to. Look through your employee handbook or contract to see what guidelines are in place for reporting.
CDL or Company Car Driver
If you have a commercial driver's license (CDL) or are a postal worker, etc., then you should tell your employer about your arrest. These employers generally run checks on their employees periodically, so it is best to inform them before they find out. A truck driver who is arrested for DUI is typically required to report this arrest to their employer. Usually, this is because of a policy that the employer has in place for their employees who operate company vehicles.
If you drive a company car, employers generally ask that you report arrests or DDS suspensions for insurance purposes. It is best to check your employee handbook.
The Decision to Tell Your Employer is Yours to Make After Careful Consideration
If you do not have a professional license and are like thousands of other people that work a typical job, you may not be under an obligation to tell an employer. Therefore, the decision is up to you. Sometimes it is a good idea to tell your employer about an arrest if it is likely they will find out. Mug shots are posted online. and you never know who is checking those sites. Also, many counties post recaps of criminal activity in their area and coworkers may see your name on the list.
If you do decide to tell your employer, remind them of your contribution to the company and reassure them that this will not have an impact on your performance. Ask them to reserve judgment until your case has been resolved and tell them you have hired an experienced Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyerand expect your case to be resolved favorably.
If You Have Questions About What to Tell Your Employer in Georgia, Contact Us Now
We have defended over 9,000 clients and have advised clients on this question many times. We will help you determine whether you have an obligation to inform your employer or if this is a situation where you should wait until a final disposition. While the possibility of losing your job adds stress to the situation, it should not be your primary focus. Your main focus should be working with an experienced criminal lawyer to obtain the best possible outcome for your case.
Even if you are not fired for your arrest, a conviction could impact your job. Whether you have to serve community service, spend time in jail, or attend a drug treatment program, these penalties could affect your work schedule. Call now for a free case evaluation.