In some cases, business life and personal life overlap. This is not always a good thing, especially if an employee gets charged with driving under the influence (DUI) -- this type of charge may lower the reputation of a company and, in some cases, make it harder for an employee to travel to and from his place of employment. Sometimes it is best to let an employee with a DUI go, but you must terminate carefully to avoid a legal backlash.
Carefully review the status of the employee who received the DUI, as well as the regulations on "at-will" employment in your jurisdiction. Generally, if the employee is at will -- that is, he has no contract and therefore could exit his employment at any time -- you have the right to fire him, with or without cause. If the employee has a contract, you'll have to be clear that the DUI breaches the contract in some way.
Read More: How to Find Out if Someone Has a DUI
Call the police department and ask if your jurisdiction keeps DUI reports as a matter of public record -- most jurisdictions will release information about individual charges. Ask for a copy of the employee's DUI report if it is a public record, explaining your interest in the violation. If the department does not keep DUIs on public record, make an appointment with the officer who issued the DUI. The officer may not release details of the DUI, but she may be able to confirm that the DUI was given and when. The idea here is to avoid firing for the DUI before you have the full story and to evaluate the employee objectively.
Contact the human relations (HR) department of your business and inform the HR manager of your intent to release the employee.
Draft a termination letter expressing that you are letting the employee go. Quote your company's policies and state regulations regarding termination of at-will or contract employees. You may list the DUI as the reason for termination if desired, but if the employee is at will, you are not required to do this, as you can fire without cause. You may state that the employee is being fired for misconduct or failure to meet your expectations instead of highlighting the DUI, as the DUI would fall under both these descriptions. If the employee has a contract, cite the specific contract terms that conflict with the DUI.
Call the employee into your office when you are prepared to terminate him. Don't give the employee notice before the meeting, as this can cause undue stress.
Inform the employee you are letting her go and present her with a copy of the termination letter. Depending on the employee's status, you may have to discuss the DUI. Tell the employee what she must do with HR to collect her final pay and instruct her to clear out her personal belongings from the business space.
Fire the employee on a Friday. This way, he'll have the weekend to cool off, lowering the risk for retaliation.
Wanda Thibodeaux is a freelance writer and editor based in Eagan, Minn. She has been published in both print and Web publications and has written on everything from fly fishing to parenting. She currently works through her business website, Takingdictation.com, which functions globally and welcomes new clients.