Can I be terminated from my job if I was convicted of a felony 13 years ago?

I took a plea deal. I was a deputy sheriff when charged and they said they found 5 pictures on my computer that I didn’t know were there and that was admitted by the dectectives but stupid me took the plea deal. I was sentenced to 6 months prison time for the pictures. It has now been 14 years and I never been in trouble again. I served honorably in the USMC for 6 years and with the sheriff’s office for 10 years. I am now a supervisor with my current job. Recently, a co-worker googled my name and found out about my conviction. I was never asked when hired about any convictions but I did sign an agreement for a background check. If the co-worker tells, could they fire me?

Asked on July 6, 2014 under Employment Labor Law, Ohio


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If you are an "at will" employee then you can be fired at any time for any reason. Generally speaking, most employees are at will employees and it is up to you to prove otherwise (with written documents or evidence of oral statements). The agreement for the background check is most likely not a contract of employment. It is hard to live in fear and I think that you may need to make a decision to speak with your superiors before word gets out (and it will get out) and understand that you could be fired.  I would also speak with an attorney about the plea and if you felt coerced by the detectives and what you can do at this stage of the game.  Good luck.

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