Domestic violence charge can I still work in the medical field?

Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “I have been charged with domestic violence. I am concerned that this arrest and charge could negatively impact my employment opportunities. Can you provide me with information about my options?”

The age of the internet has made it easier than ever for employers to gather data and run inexpensive background checks on potential or current employees. In fact, it’s common for most employers to run criminal background checks prior to hiring someone. If an applicant has been convicted of domestic violence or they have agreed to a plea bargain the employer may assume the applicant is violent and decide not to hire them.

Criminal charges without convictions, however, may pose a tougher problem for employers with federal and state laws offering certain protections for job applicants.

Can I work in the medical profession with a domestic violence charge?

You asked whether a domestic violence charge would limit your employment options. Unfortunately, without more information it’s a bit tough to answer your question. Whether or not the employer has a right not to hire you will depend on several factors, such as whether the background check was job-related, the type of domestic violence charge, the circumstances surrounding your legal case, the hiring practices of the company, and your state’s laws.

Companies will also have to consider whether their hiring practices violate federal laws. For example, employers have to be careful that hiring decisions made in response to information obtained from a criminal background check are not in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Specifically, employers should not automatically bar everyone that has an arrest record from employment, especially if this action “unjustifiably limits the employment opportunities of applicants or workers of certain racial or ethnic groups.”

Federal laws are clear that an arrest and charge does not constitute a crime. Furthermore, before the employer could use a criminal conduct exclusion, they will need to provide evidence that the “specific criminal conduct, and its dangers, pose inherent risks in the duties of a particular position."

With this in mind, in some cases, if the business cannot specifically articulate a business necessity for the inquiry into the arrest that did not end in a conviction it could be considered discrimination.

Consider expunging your criminal record

The first step after a domestic violence charge is to get a good lawyer. Assuming you are charged with domestic violence but you win your court case or you are found not guilty, you may need to consider having your arrest and domestic violence charge expunged from your criminal record. In some states an expungement may allow the court to seal the record of your arrest, eliminating the chance that an employer will know about the arrest and charge.

Convicted of Domestic Violence

If your domestic violence charge results in a conviction, however, you could face more severe employment issues. In fact, a conviction for a domestic violence charge, especially if you are convicted of a felony, could result in the inability to renew a professional medical license or to receive a financial bond, which could be required for lawyers, nurses, doctors, etc.

Additionally, if you are convicted of domestic violence you may also lose your right to carry a fire arm, which may or may not be required in your profession.

Bottom line:

If you have been charged with domestic violence it’s important to talk to a criminal defense lawyer and get the best defense possible. If you are never convicted, consider expunging your record.

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