By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
I notice when something embarrassing happens in my life, It feels like everyone around me knows and they just aren’t talking about it. It’s a weird phenomenon. Surely people will find out eventually if they don’t know at the moment, right? Then I remind myself the planet doesn’t revolve around me and most people don’t spend all day wondering about my life.
I know my clients go through the same thing. Every morning the Courthouse is filled with hundreds of people — all of whom assume everyone is looking at them knowing their deepest darkest secret of why they are there.
But people typically only know what we tell them. And even then they only listen part of the time.
Your workplace is usually no exception. Unless your workplace is directly wired into to government databases about arrests (and some are), there is usually no way they’d become aware of an arrest absent some obvious indication. Background checks are expensive and private companies typically don’t order them just to order them.
Here’s the better question — does your employee handbook require you to report an arrest? Texas is what is called an “at-will” state for employment. That means you can be hired, fired, promoted or demoted for a good reason, bad reason, or no reason at all. If you have the duty under your handbook to report an arrest and you don’t then you’ve put your head on the employer’s chopping block. Then again, they occasion of your arrest may get you canned just the same. What to do?
Sometimes the answer as to whether to disclose an arrest to an employer just comes down to faith and trust your employer will hear someone out and treat them fairly. It can absolutely be a case by case basis.
But to answer the original question — employers typically don’t know about the vast majority of arrests.
*Jeremy Rosenthal is an attorney licensed by the State Bar of Texas and is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is designated as a 2019 Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters, Inc. Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice.