Can I Be Suspended Or Fired From My Job Following An Arrest?
A criminal arrest will seriously upend your life. Even if the charges or dropped–or you are ultimately tried and acquitted–the arrest alone can have negative consequences in the interim. For example, you could face suspension or termination by your employer.
Florida is an “at-will” state when it comes to employment. This means that in most cases, an employer can fire you with or without cause. There are certain exceptions. For instance, your employer cannot fire you based on race or sex. But there is no law protecting you from termination solely based on the fact you were arrested for a crime during the course of your employment.
Some employers do have written policies stating that an employee will only be suspended while a criminal case is pending. This means that if the employee is cleared, they can return to their job, although they may not receive any back pay for the time they were suspended.
School Custodian Thwarted in Effort to Receive Back Pay Following Post-Arrest Suspension
Public employees are also subject to different rules than people working in the private sector. Many government employers have regulations or policies addressing how to handle an employee’s arrest. And these rules, in turn, may be subject to collective bargaining with the public employee’s union.
A recent decision from the Florida First District Court of Appeals, Escambia County School Board v. Warren, is a case in point. This case involved a union employee who worked as a custodian for a Florida public school district. In 2017, prosecutors charged the employee with grand theft. The school board subsequently suspended the employee without pay under a local rule “disqualifying” school board employees for convictions of certain specified crimes.
The employee initially challenged the school board’s authority to suspend him while his criminal case was pending. The First District sided with the board in a 2019 decision. Shortly thereafter, the employee pleaded “no contest” to a felony to resolve his criminal case. This particular felony was not one of the disqualifying offenses listed in the school board’s rule. So the school board reinstated the employee to his job.
The board would not, however, give the employee back pay for the time he was suspended. This prompted another round of legal challenges. The First District again sided with the board.
The employee and his union then tried one more avenue of attack–challenging the rule itself as an “invalid exercise of delegated legislative authority.” Although an administrative law judge actually held the rule was invalid, the First District again sided with the school board. Technically, the appeals court did not declare the rule was valid or invalid; it actually found that neither the employee nor the union had legal “standing” to challenge the rule in the first place.
Contact Orlando Criminal Defense Attorney Jose Baez Today
Any criminal charges, no matter how minor, can adversely affect your life and livelihood. That is why it is essential to work with an experienced Orlando criminal defense lawyer when facing such allegations. Contact the Baez Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation.