A phone call
that would turn off any employer is one telling you your
employee has landed in jail. No matter what the reason, an
employer will find themselves in a bind when dealing with
jailed employees. Most state laws prevent you from firing
a jailed employee simply because they are behind bars. These
laws claim this is discrimination. They protect the employee’s
rights to do what they want after work hours. As long as
your employees have good work habits and show up on time,
you cannot fire them for being in jail as this is discrimination
against their crime.
So, unfortunately as an employer the only immediate action
you can effectively take is to find someone to replace your
jailed employee temporarily. Your employee may get a quick
release from jail. If their crime does not
their work ability and they return a timely fashion, then
the problem will resolve itself. Of course, any jail time
should be unpaid and you should take it out of their leave
If Terminating Jailed Employees is the Only Answer
But what happens if this is not the case? If the employee
is in jail for an extended time, it is going to be a problem
for your business. Also their crime might interfere with
their work responsibilities. For example, the reason for
their jail time is child molestation and they are a teacher.
In such cases, terminating jailed employees is necessary.
Here is where terminating jailed employees becomes sensitive
and you must proceed carefully. First consider if the jailed
employee is under contract or part of a union. This makes
the issue a bit more difficult as you must review your contracts.
If you are unsure of the contractual guidelines on missed
days or termination, you should consult the company’s
legal expert on work related termination laws.
Before you decide to fire any jailed employee, you should
keep a log of events that take place following the incarceration.
Log in the number of hours they miss work, and any training
sessions they miss. Also you should record when they began
exceeding their allowable leave days. If you can, document
the effect their absence or their reasons for being in jail
is having on your business. You should collect as much evidence
as you can. Build the case that you are not firing them because
they were jailed but because of the effects of their jail
time. This is the best way to avoid legal battles if you
eventually must fire them.
employees better and faster