I was offered a job contingent on the background check, Needless to say I gave notice at my current job. So I received a call from my potential new job informing me that they found a DUI on my record from 10yrs ago and that since I didn't disclose it they will need to rescind their offer. Can they do this? Also the position that I was hired for is not a driving job its a clerical position.

  • Did the application and/or background check paperwork ask any questions that should have resulted in disclosure of the DUI? – Patricia Shanahan Jul 4 '15 at 17:10
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    I do not feel this question deserves "close" votes. It is absolutely about the workplace and provides a valuable data point about whether or not something like a DUI can pop-up years later in a background check. FWIW, rescinding an offer or firing someone because they failed to bring it up a long-ago DUI conviction for a non-driving job is unimaginably vicious-- but it is good to know it can happen as a warning. – teego1967 Jul 4 '15 at 18:29
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    I assume you're talking in the US? This has a different answer in some countries. E.g. in the UK convictions are considered 'spent' after 5 years, and are only required to be closed in some strictly limited situations (e.g. your employer isn't allowed to ask) – Sobrique Jul 4 '15 at 21:05
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    Not a duplicate, but somewhat related: workplace.stackexchange.com/q/44915/26699 The thing about background checks is that stuff that isn't relevant to your ability to do your job can still be a problem if the company thinks you were trying to hide it or are lying about it. It's a huge risk to resign your current position for a contingent offer. – ColleenV Jul 4 '15 at 22:16
  • You should probably tag this question with the country you're asking about. If it's the U.S., though, then, yes, they certainly can do this. In fact, both of the positions I was offered that required security clearances told me to not give notice at my previous employer until after the clearance was granted. – reirab Jul 4 '15 at 23:05

They asked you "were you ever convicted ..." and you said "No", knowing that you had a DUI? I doubt they'd care about your DUI from 10 years ago had you disclosed it. The problem is that they caught you lying now

My attitude as your prospective employer is, if you are going to lie to me about a DUI from 10 years ago that I wouldn't care about if you had disclosed it to me, why wouldn't you lie to me about stuff that's much more important to me today?

From your question "Can they do this?", I am getting the impression that the only thing you regret is that you got caught. I don't know too many employers who'd want to hire employees with this mindset.

Having said that, look to see if you can have your DUI from 10 years ago expunged. If you honestly forgot about it, then say so to your prospective employer, apologize profusely, say that you had put the episode behind you, that you haven't been in trouble since, say that the result of the background check came as a shock to you and say that in view of the result of the background check, that you are now looking into the possibility of having your DUI expunged. Finish your communication by apologizing for needlessly, although unwittingly, creating a credibility issue where there was none. Say that you were wrong about the DUI when you answered, but you did NOT lie about it because you plain forgot.

Your apology may not work in the sense that your prospective employer has ironclad background check procedures that make no exception or provide room for appeal, but I believe that it is important that you explain yourself for the record and establish with them a level of credibility as regards to your integrity and that you build yourself up some good will. Who knows? You may apply again at some point in time in the future when you have made sure, if possible, that your DUI has been expunged but this time you'll be able to claim a clean slate.

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    They asked you "were you ever convicted ... No, you just assumed that. And you don't know whether they asked about felonies or misdemeanors (rare, and dubious). Unless the job requirement involves driving or bartending (and then not necessarily even if), it's very hard to make the case that an old 10-year-old DUI conviction is either a) somehow disqualifying or b) evidence of gross moral turpitude. (Now if the OP stated they had no convictions, yes that may be different.) GW Bush allegedly had a DUI conviction and that didn't disqualify him did it? – smci Jul 4 '15 at 21:24
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    I'd never been convicted of a DUI, but I'm guessing if I were, 10 years ago, I would have completely forgotten about it by now. Even if I haven't, I probably wouldn't connect the dots that they are related. – CleverNode Jul 4 '15 at 21:27
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    @Blam The OP reports that the prospective employer said that the OP did not disclose the DUI. My presumption is that the prospective employer asked and I am basing my answer on this presumption - I believe that my presumption is reasonable, although the OP is the ultimate authority on whether my presumption is correct. If the prospective employer never asked, the OP should cry foul. – Vietnhi Phuvan Jul 4 '15 at 22:09
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    You cannot simply forget about these things, you may need to travel one day. Some countries will ask you about arrests at their borders. There are instances of travellers not even knowing they have an arrest record as the TSA may not have informed them they were technically "arrested" at some arbitrary checkpoint. This is regardless of the lack of any conviction. – mckenzm Jul 4 '15 at 22:55
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    @Novina I've never been convicted (or charged with) anything, but I can't imagine forgetting being arrested, even if it were 10 years ago. – reirab Jul 4 '15 at 22:59

They probably would not have minded the DUI, since it is not a driving position and it was quite some time ago.

What they object to ia that you hid it. It indicates to them (and I would agree) that you are dishonest, and therefore cannot be trusted.

Lying may not seem like much, since it causes no direct harm and is "only words," but (at least to me) it indicates that you may be willing to commit almost any other crime or malfeasance, as you have shown a deceptive nature.

A reputation takes a lifetime to build and a moment to destroy.

As far as whether or not they're "allowed to:". I am not a lawyer, but I am aware of a great deal of (U.S.) case law that will back their position.

You should never believe anything is too old to still be on your record, or that it has been fully expunged. Just 2 days ago a social worker doing background checks on our foster parenting license showed me my record. My speeding ticket from 2004 was still there.

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    Based on the question as stated you cannot conclude she hid it. – paparazzo Jul 4 '15 at 17:17
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    I didn't intentionally hide it, I made an honest mistake and forgot about it when I went to court the Judge said this case will be closed.. Well it is defiantly a Harsh lesson learned. – Samsara Jul 4 '15 at 17:41
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    @WesleyLong: Nonsense. Your answer speaks of "lying", and says that the OP is "dishonest" and has "shown a deceptive nature". I can't believe that you seriously think those accusations have nothing to do with intent, only effect; but if you do, then I feel bad for anyone who has to work with you. – ruakh Jul 4 '15 at 21:03
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    If I left anything out that showed up in my background check, they would have booted us out, and rightfully so. I had actually put that and another speeding ticket from a different state on my questionnaire. The out of state one didn't show up on their check, but I told them bout it anyway because being honest is important. These are the values I live by, and the values I expect in anyone who expects me to trust them. Sorry if that offends you. – Wesley Long Jul 4 '15 at 22:09
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    Some folks are just astonishingly rigid in their thinking about what they perceive as "lies". The ultimate illustration of this was President Clinton in the Monica Lewinsky scandal. For some people the fact that he "lied" to the special prosecutor about something profoundly personal and utterly unrelated to his job overshadowed the fact that he was the target of an orchestrated, overreaching, albeit "legal", witch-hunt. This thinking about "lying" is deeply ingrained and quite polarized, I think. – teego1967 Jul 4 '15 at 23:57

The safe bet is to wait for the background check to clear.

Where it gets tough is when they expect you to start before the background check is clear. In that case just be sure you are squeaky clean. I was on a contract job for 2 years and the security check took 2 years (I passed) - my badge went from temp to contractor. It was a 2 year contract. I literally turned in the contractor badge the same week I got it.

Did you lie? If the job application only asked have you ever been convicted of a felony then you did not lie. If it asked have you ever been convicted of a misdemeanor then yes you lied (if the DUI was considered misdemeanor). If it asked have you ever been arrested then yes you did lie (unless you somehow got a DUI without an arrest). Have you ever been arrested seems like it is not fair as the case can be dismissed but it was still an arrest.

If the judge said case closed and thought that was the same as case dismissed that is an honest but stupid mistake. I doubt you would have turned in notice if you had known a misdemeanor DUI was on your record. You see wealthy people spend a lot of money to get charges reduced to keep stuff off their record.

A friend of my not only accepted a new job but got fired after she started for a DUI years ago (also not a driving position). She said but you did not ask and they agreed. When they went to put her on professional insurance it came up from the insurance provider. It is not always fair.

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  • From the question, it seems like the background check already cleared and came back with a discrepancy, which caused them to rescind the offer. It's a little late to wait for the check to clear... – panoptical Jul 4 '15 at 19:21
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    @panoptical Yes it is a little late to wait. "I was offered a job contingent on the background check, Needless to say I gave notice at my current job." Needless to say it would have been better to not have given notice at the current job. – paparazzo Jul 4 '15 at 19:44

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