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Can an employer perform a background check for a DUI charge?

For some people in Sacramento, driving is a standard part of their job. Of course, semi-truck drivers, bus drivers and taxi drivers may come to mind, but sometimes even people who work in sales or other businesses have to regularly travel as part of their job duties.

Unfortunately, if a person is accused of driving while intoxicated, it can affect their ability to drive for their job. This may be true even if the person is ultimately not even convicted of DUI. Those who have been charged with a DUI/DWI who are seeking employment as drivers may wonder if their potential employer can perform a background check to see if there is any record of a DUI charge that might be used against them in the hiring process. Similarly, those who are already employed as drivers may wonder if their current employer can fire them after examining a background check that shows the driver has been charged with DUI.

There are restrictions under federal law with regards to employers performing background checks on employees. The Fair Credit Reporting Act is applicable to outside employers conducting background checks (but not those being performed in-house.) Under that Act, DUI arrests after seven years cannot be reported. However, DUI convictions can always be reported. Moreover, the Act only applies to positions in which the worker only earns $75,000 or less annually.

That being said, courts in the United States have maintained that per Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers must have a compelling business reason to deny the hiring of a person who has a criminal conviction. However, it is difficult for an individual to prove why and how a hiring decision was made (or not made.)

California law offers potential employees more protections. It states that an employer cannot question a person about DUI arrests that they were ultimately not convicted of. In addition, a person convicted of drunk driving can get a certificate of rehabilitation for job purposes.

As you can see, the laws surrounding DUIs and background checks can be difficult to understand. It takes a good deal of legal knowledge to determine how these laws will apply to the facts of a person's case, and no two cases are the same. Therefore, those who are wondering how a DUI arrest or conviction will affect their employment may want to seek legal advice.

Source: FindLaw, "DUI and Employment Background Checks," Accessed April 25, 2017

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