One of the first questions clients ask after being accused of a DUI is “Will I lose my job?” In Texas, the answer is “it depends.” It is possible to be fired for a DUI/DWI arrest or conviction in Sugar Land, Texas.
At-Will Employment in Texas
Texas is an at-will employment state. This means that in the absence of an express agreement, you can be fired at any time, for any reason (and you can quit at any time, for any reason). There are certain limits to this general rule that prohibit employment discrimination. An employer cannot fire an employee based on their race, age, disability, nationality, or religion. However, in Texas, no law prohibits the use of arrests as a basis for employment decisions. Your employer has the legal right to fire you for a DUI arrest or conviction, even if it did not happen while you were at work.
Whether or not you will lose your job over a DUI accusation or conviction depends heavily on what your employment contract states and what type of job you have.
What Does Your Employment Contract Say?
Many jobs require you to enter into an employment contract. Almost all employment contracts in Sugar Land include the reasons for which you can be fired. The contract may state that you can be fired for a DUI/DWI arrest or conviction, or it may simply include terminology related to arrests or convictions in general. In some cases, there may be broad language allowing termination for conduct unbecoming of the company or its reputation, which an employer could use as justification for firing an employee for a DUI arrest or conviction.
A Texas employer cannot violate explicit terms of an employment contract. However, it is highly unlikely that any employment contract would include language prohibiting an employer from firing an employee because of a DUI arrest or conviction.
What Type of Job Do You Have?
If you work in certain professions, there is a greater chance that a DUI arrest or conviction will result in you losing your job. Examples of professions where you are at greater risk include:
- Truck Drivers: Truck drivers with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) are held to a higher standard of vehicle operation than other drivers. If you are charged or convicted of a DUI in Texas, you may lose your CDL and no longer be able to perform your job duties.
- Jobs that Require Driving: There are numerous jobs that require driving without a CDL, such as Uber/Lyft, traveling salesmen, and postal workers. If your license is suspended or your employer otherwise considers you unreliable because of the arrest, you are likely to lose your job.
- Childcare Workers: Teachers, daycare providers, and other childcare workers are held to higher standards.
- Jobs Requiring Professional Licenses: Doctors, lawyers, accountants, nurses, and other jobs requiring professional licenses are at higher risk when accused of a DUI. Professional boards may use an arrest or conviction as a reason to strip you of your license.
- Heavy Equipment Operator: Operating heavy machinery or equipment involves significant safety risks. An employer may believe that a DUI arrest or conviction makes you a danger to the workplace.
Do I Have to Tell My Boss About a DUI Arrest or Conviction in Texas?
In general, you have no obligation to notify your employer of a DUI arrest or conviction in Texas. However, there are certain exceptions where it is required or where your employer will otherwise be notified.
- It is Required in Your Employment Contract
Some employment contracts require employees to inform their employer about all arrests. If you do not follow the terms of your employment contract could face dismissal. However, if you are honest and inform your employer per the contract, there is the possibility that you still keep your job. An attorney can inform you of your legal rights and let you know whether or not you are obligated to tell your employer.
- Your Employer Does Routine Background Checks
Some employers do routine background checks. An arrest can show up on your record, even if you are not convicted. If your employer is going to find out anyway, it may be beneficial to your working relationship if you are upfront and notify your employer ahead of time.
Your Sugar Land Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one is facing DWI charges, you should reach out to a qualified Sugar Land criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Adam Capetillo is a Fort Bend County native who will protect your rights and provide a skilled and aggressive defense. Call Capetillo Law Firm today for a free consultation.