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Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Uh-Oh: What To Do When You're in Trouble
Would you hire an ex-convict? Would you work with one?
There's a story today in The New York Times about how some states are helping ex-cons find jobs in the hopes it will keep them from returning to prison.
It's no secret that finding a job these days can be difficult, but can you imagine what it's like if you have a criminal record?
That's certainly something you have to worry about if you get into trouble with the law. But what about if you have a job when you get arrested, even for something like DUI? Will you automatically get fired? Should you try and cover it up and just hope and pray the boss never finds out?
Most bosses, I think, would say that he or she wants all the facts involved before deciding to fire someone for an arrest. Management will probably also take into account the company culture before taking action.
If you're employed with a company that promotes family-friendly values, for example, you might immediately be placed on administrative leave until an investigation is concluded. If you work for a smaller employer, you might get more leniency since mom-and-pop operations are often closer to workers and may be more understanding and supportive of you.
Still, no matter who you work for, the best thing to do when you've been arrested for an offense -- even it seems minor to you -- is to get legal advice before you say anything to an employer. A lawyer can help you figure out if you've got to fess up to the boss under company rules, or perhaps be able to fly below the radar and keep management from finding out.
Of course, the problem with staying mum about your trouble is that the boss may still find out -- and do you want him to hear the news from you or the office gossip?
Even if you do decide to come clean, don't post it on Facebook or blab about it in the break room. In some cases, whatever you say to someone else can be used in your trial and possibly seen as an admission of guilt, depending on what you spill to others.
One bit of hope you can hang onto if you're arrested is that if you're a valuable employee, the boss may be more tolerant of your legal problems and be willing to give you a second chance.
The boss also may be more tolerant of an arrest if it just involves poor judgment on your part -- such as being caught peeing in an alley after a Super Bowl party -- rather than smacking your roommate over the head with a lava lamp. Charges of violence can make employers nervous, not to mention fellow employees.
How would you feel working with someone with a criminal record?
I think a fair chance should be given to ex-convicts. Not all of them are regular criminals.
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