This is more out of curiosity driven by a conversation with some friends than practicality, but I'm wondering now.

I'm talking about being employed in the USA now. Let's assume in this hypothetical scenario the person has a perfect record at work but ended up getting arrested during non-work hours.

Can you be fired from any, or all jobs if you get arrested? And what are the mitigating circumstances (violent vs nonviolent crime, drug related vs not, etc)?

Is the law different whether you're a civil servant or part of a private company?

How would your job even find out? Do the police notify them?

Thank you!

  • 2
    Welcome to the Workplace.SE. Unfortunately, this question is likely to be closed as off-topic since it deals with legal issues that vary from place to place. As it is currently worded, the only viable answer will be to consult a local law expert. If you can rephrase it in a way that enables a better answer, please feel free to edit your question. – Kent A. May 27 '15 at 18:17
  • 2
    Do you mean arrested, charged or actually found guilty of a crime? Because, of course, innocent people can be arrested and even charged without being guilty of anything. – Laconic Droid May 27 '15 at 19:11
  • One of the major Xbox engineers at Microsoft was let go after the engineer tweeted something that offended customers. I mention that because this tweet was sent after normal working hours on a personal Twitter account. If your actions cause harm to a business they will find a way to stop the bleeding – Donald May 28 '15 at 4:17

From Wikipedia

At-will employment is a term used in U.S. labor law for contractual relationships in which an employee can be dismissed by an employer for any reason (that is, without having to establish "just cause" for termination), and without warning

In most (but not all) US states they can fire you at any time without reason, no arrest needed.

Eleven U.S. states have recognized a breach of an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing as an exception to at-will employment.

These 11 states are:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Delaware
  • Idaho
  • Massachusetts
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • Utah
  • Wyoming

Court interpretations of this have varied from requiring "just cause" to denial of terminations made for malicious reasons, such as terminating a long-tenured employee solely to avoid the obligation of paying the employee's accrued retirement benefits. Other court rulings have denied the exception, holding that it is too burdensome upon the court for it to have to determine an employer's true motivation for terminating an employee.

So in these states if they can argue an arrest is "just cause" (say for damage to the company reputation by the publicity), they can also fire you no matter how good an employee you've been.

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