Fired for Off-Duty Misconduct? Employer May Have Violated Your Rights

July 12, 2017
The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford

Women holding a glass of wine

For most people, there is a difference between work and play. While you are at work, you may do everything possible to ensure you are doing your job well. However, once you leave your place of employment, you may choose to hang out with friends and family, partake in an alcoholic beverage, or you may simply choose to relax. Generally, and depending on your profession, you are left to your own devices when you are not working. However, there are times when work and play can intermingle and both your professional life and personal life can be affected. This can come in the form of off-duty misconduct.

Can you be terminated for off-duty misconduct? The answer is “maybe.”  It is important to keep in mind that there are some federal and state laws that limit an employer’s ability to intrude into the privacy of their employees. If you or a loved one was wrongfully terminated from your job due to off-duty misconduct, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced Baltimore employment attorney so that we can strategize about the best possible outcomes for your situation.

Off-Duty Misconduct

In Maryland, and throughout the United States, if you are employed by the government or a public entity, you have a constitutional right to privacy that protects you from most monitoring of, or even inquiring about, your off-duty conduct. However, when you are employed by a private employer, this may not be the case. For private employers, there are three main occasions when you possibly could be terminated for off-duty misconduct. One of those is when the off-duty misconduct brings about a reasonable fear that the problem will come back to the workplace, such as when you are convicted of murder, sexual assault, rape, or armed robbery. If that is the case, a private employer may be able to terminate you. However, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states that this type of termination is allowed only so long as the employer is not firing you for merely being arrested.

A private employer also may be able to terminate you if the off-duty misconduct is related to an essential function of your job. For example, if you are a driver for a company and you are charged with a DUI outside of work hours, this charge can pose a problem because driving is an essential part of your job.

Lastly, a private employer may be able to terminate you for off-duty misconduct when you have broken the company’s code of ethics. It is important to note that even if you are arrested, that is not necessarily reason enough for you to be terminated for off-duty misconduct, depending on your case. Because of the complexity of this area of the law and the overlay of federal and state privacy laws that may limit an employer’s ability to delve into your off-duty activities, it is invaluable to seek legal representation and advice if you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated for off-duty misconduct.

Need Legal Advice?

Being terminated can be difficult in and of itself. It can be even more upsetting when you have been terminated for conduct that you performed outside of the scope of your employment. In some cases, your termination can be considered wrongful. If you or a loved one has been wrongfully terminated for off-duty misconduct, or for any other reason, you should contact an experienced Baltimore employment attorney at The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford by calling 410-514-6099 or contacting them via their website.  

(image courtesy of Chris Montgomery)