Can someone be fired for having a criminal record if they worked for the company for8 years?

I was hired by a health center. A question on the on application read, “Have you been convicted of felony?”yet  I said no because even though I was awaiting trial, I was not convicted. 1 year later I was found guilty. I told our CFO and CEO. They kept me on the job. CFO retired then recently CEO retired. Interim CEO decided anyone with conviction had to be terminated. Is this legal?

Asked on October 19, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Do you have an employment contract? If you do not, then you are an "employee at will." As the term implies, and employee at will may be fired at any time, for any reason whatsover (apart from disriminatory or retalitory reasons: no firing for race, sex, religion, age over 40, or disability, or because someone brought a wage and hour claim, a discrimination complaint, or used  FMLA leave).

So the interim CEO could decide to fire you because of your conviction, as he could decide to fire you because you he simply does not like or trust you. As an employee at will, you unfortunately have little, if any, protection from termination.

If you do have an employment contract and it address grounds for termination, its terms and conditions may be enforced, if they help you.

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