In a day and age when the term “discrimination” is thrown around quite a bit, especially in regards to employment, DUI defendants often wonder, “If my employer fires me because of my DUI, would that be discrimination?”
It’s true that employees have a lot of legal protections when it comes to being fired for “discriminatory” reasons; however, facing DUI charges is not one of them. In other words, yes, your employer can fire you for a DUI and no, it would not be considered discrimination.
The types of things that fall under the heading of discrimination include firing someone because of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation, or pregnancy. An employer can even face an employment lawsuit if they fire someone for filing a workers’ compensation claim – DUI however, doesn’t fall under the category of discrimination.
California is an At-Will Employment State
California, like most states, is an at-will employment state. This means that employers can legally terminate employees for any reason, so long as it’s not for discrimination. How a DUI conviction affects a person’s job depends on:
- If the defendant drives for a living
- If the defendant works with children
- If the defendant is in politics
- If the defendant is in a “respectable” job
- If the defendant goes to jail
- How the employer feels about DUI convictions
- If the employer is willing to work with the defendant
- If the defendant holds a professional license
Often, the issue of keeping an employee on after a DUI comes down to whether or not the employee goes to jail for an extended period of time. Many employers simply can’t afford to wait for their employee to return from jail.
Then, there are certain professions that don’t tolerate DUIs. A DUI can be devastating for a Commercial Driver’s License holder, or a real estate agent who has to drive clients around all day. Or, even someone in pharmaceutical sales who visits doctors’ offices all day long.
If a California realtors fails to disclose their DUI to the Bureau of Real Estate, this omission could lead to having their license revoked. Same goes for many other professional license holders.
Will a DUI cause you to lose your job? It all depends on whether you’re convicted, if you go to a jail, and whether your current employer has a problem with DUIs. Even if a DUI does not affect your current job, it can affect your future employment opportunities because the DUI remains on your criminal record indefinitely.