Being arrested, even for a minor offense, can be highly disruptive to your life and your family. In some cases, it can also negatively impact your job, especially if your detainment kept you from showing up for work or if an employer runs a criminal background check on you. Are you legally or morally obligated to tell your boss about your arrest—and if so, what do you tell them? Let's talk about some basic dos and don'ts.
DO Learn About Your Employer's Policies
Employees are not always required to disclose details of an arrest to their employers. The main exception is if you are legally or contractually required to do so. If your company has a stated policy requiring you to notify your boss about an arrest, or if you signed a contract to that effect, you could be fired for failing to notify them. In some government jobs, you may even be legally required to tell your boss (for example, the City of Providence requires its employees to report an arrest within 24 hours). On the other hand, some employers only require you to notify them of a criminal conviction, not the arrest itself. Check your contract or your company policies to find out what they expect.
DON'T Volunteer Information that Isn't Required
If your arrest has no bearing on your job, if you have no legal or contractual obligation, and/or if your employer doesn't specifically ask, there may be no need to volunteer that you have been arrested. In cases like these, consider telling your boss only on a “need-to-know” basis. If the charges are dismissed, or you resolve the case out of court, there may be no need to involve your boss, especially if your time out of the office is limited. If, however, your case goes to trial and you'll need to be off work, your boss will need to know why.
DON'T Lie About Your Arrest
Rhode Island has a “ban the box” law in effect that forbids employers from asking on a job application whether you've ever been arrested. However, nothing prevents a prospective employer from asking you about it in a job interview or running a criminal background check—and nothing prevents your boss from asking you point-blank to confirm a rumor. Lying to your boss is a breach of trust and could jeopardize your job if you are found out. If your case goes to court, your boss will probably find out the truth over time, anyway. Better to answer that question honestly if you are asked.
DO Ask Your Lawyer When in Doubt
Even with these dos and don'ts, the protocols for telling a boss about a recent arrest can still be confusing. An experienced Rhode Island criminal defense attorney can offer advice on broaching this subject with your boss while helping you develop an effective defense strategy. If you have been recently arrested, contact Inman & Tourgee online or call (401) 823-9200 to discuss your case today.