Can You Get Fired from Off-Duty Misconduct?

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Whether it’s getting arrested for a drunk driving over the weekend or posting something offensive on social media, it is possible for federal agencies to discipline employees due to misconduct that occurs outside office hours, depending on the circumstances of each case. Keep in mind, federal employers must determine a connection between an employee’s actions outside of office hours and how they affect job performance.

The federal agency must prove at least one of the following to take disciplinary actions against an employee for off-duty misconduct:

  • Off-duty misconduct is gregarious – This means the act is heinous enough to establish a link with the efficiency of the agency. While some forms of illegal misconduct may not be considered egregious for disciplinary reasons, violent and sex crimes are flagrant enough to warrant corrective action.
  • Off-duty misconduct negatively affects the employee’s performance at work or the agency’s confidence and trust in the employee’s ability to do their job – Employees who committed misconduct which is related to their job duties may experience difficulties avoiding disciplinary actions. For example, if a person’s work duties include driving, an off-duty DUI can have a negative impact on his/her job performance due to a suspended license as a result of the criminal offense. However, employees have an opportunity to present evidence which proves their off-duty actions does not have an impact on their job performance. Additionally, it is beneficial to obtain a positive performance review after the misconduct happened.
  • Off-duty misconduct had a negative impact on the agency’s mission – Whether the act occurred at a job site or a work-related event, involved other federal employees or managers, or resulted in negative publicity toward the agency, these are examples of off-duty actions adversely affecting the agency’s mission.

In most federal sectors, you are required to report an arrest. If you fail to report the incident, the charge will appear on your record during a background check, which could result in termination for not disclosing the criminal offense.

If you believe your off-duty misconduct does not affect your job performance or the agency’s mission, but you were disciplined or terminated anyway, our Washington D.C. federal employee specialists at John P. Mahoney, Esq., Attorneys at Law are ready to protect your rights and best interests. For more information, contact us and schedule a consultation today.