Indirect Consequences of DUI Convictions: Employment Discrimination

Finding a job in today's economy with even stellar credential is difficult. Unemployment still hovers above nine percent, and that's number only encompasses people currently receiving benefits or trying to find gainful employment. Having a drunk-driving arrest or conviction in Arizona can make job hunting even more daunting.

Many employers today who find a particular DUI arrest or conviction on an applicant's criminal record may, unfairly-or even illegally-refuse to give the applicant a chance regardless of his or her education or previous work credentials.

Just like employers pledging not to consider unemployed job seekers, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that it is ready to file lawsuits against employers who use arrest or conviction records unfairly against minority candidates. The EEOC will also challenge race-neutral policies that disproportionately affect minorities. These include directives to not consider applicants that have arrest records or criminal convictions.

Indeed, criminal records can bring about questions regarding an applicant's reliability or trustworthiness. However, these are issues that should be addressed in an interview. It is understandable to decline an interview to someone who recently was convicted of a violent felony where the job requires good customer service skills. Likewise, someone who has a number of DUI convictions will not be considered for jobs that require a great deal of driving. Nevertheless, blanket policies against applicants with criminal records could have a disparate impact that is prohibited by federal law.

There is also a significant difference between being arrested for, and being convicted of, drunk driving. Not hiring someone because of an arrest is unlawful because criminal defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Also, the final disposition may result in charges being dropped, or an acquittal. Each of which may have little bearing on the applicant's ability to perform the job.

Discrimination in Arizona

Ultimately, some Arizona DUI defense attorneys say Arizona employers must have strong arguments for disqualifying applicants with criminal records. The criminal conduct must run contrary to the essential job functions, or be egregious enough to exclude the applicant because of the crime alone.

A DUI can have devastating effects, both direct and indirect. It's important for individuals convicted of or facing DUI charges to seek the help of experienced counsel. Your lawyer can help mitigate any potential consequence you may face under the law.