Employee Arrest

Last week one of our EMT's was arrested for sexual assault. He's scheduled to return to work tomorrow (if he makes bail). Obviously we can't have him in the back of the ambulance w/ incapacitated females until this is resolved, we can't fire him based on an arrest and we don't want to put him off on paid administrated leave for two years until it goes to trial.

Help! I appreciate any suggestions you have!



  • 19 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Terry,

    Can you furnish us a bit more info? How do you know he has been arrested? Do you have a policy requiring an employee to call in daily? How were you notified of his first day's absence? Do you have "Desk Duty" available?

  • Do you have a policy on causing negative press or public relations? Many organizations have one so that if an employee embarrasses the company they can be terminated, or at least put on unpaid leave until things cool off.
  • We had a purchasing manager arrested for dealing cocaine. We were lucky that he did not call in while in jail and we were able to use the '3 days no call no show' quit. Your situation probably depends heavily on your state laws, so I would recommend you call your lawyer. In Wisconsin, we cannot discriminate on arrests and can only use convictions that are 'substantially related' to the position. Good luck
  • The sheriff's dept called (we're a municipality) to let us know of the arrest. The ee called in sick a couple of hours before he was arrested, and he hasn't actually lost any time because he works 24 hr shifts every couple of days.

    I think the Union Rep is going to try to get our agreement for desk duty, although it would be setting a precedent and a job would have to be created.

    And yes, we have "Conduct unbecoming an employee... or other acts of commission which impacts negatively of the public's perception of the integrity or credibility of the employer or erodes the public confidence in the employer."

    There have been a couple of news stories about it, but can we dismiss him without a conviction?
  • Wouldn't you want to suspend him first and take your time gathering whatever information you can before you make a decision?

    People are wrongly accused. It does happen.
  • Do you have an at-will employment provision? If so, how is it managed with your union contract? It may be an option for you for immediate dismissal in that courts will usually uphold immediate discharge in an at-will setting.

  • I'd treat it just like a sexual harrassment allegation. Put him on administrative leave, conduct your own nquiry in light of his job description, and deal from there. Maybe an offer of another position in the company, if available. Was this assault on duty in an ambulance? What is compelling, in my view, is if he were returned to proximity of incapacitated females and did something, the liability suit against your company would be horrible. Act to protect your company and co-workers.
    The Colonel
  • We appreciate everyone's input!! We have come up with what we hope is a fair solution.

    Because we're a long way from a conviction, we have decided to keep his job intact with some precautionary measures (provided we get buy-in from the union).

    Based on the fact that this is likely to negatively impact the public's perception of the Department and could open us up to liability, he will have to sign an employment agreement that says he will avoid situations where he would be alone with a female; that his partner will have to be within 5' of him and any female patient he is treating; and that if on a call where a female patient will have to be transported, his role will be that of driver.

    We further explain that we understand an arrest is not a conviction and that these measures are for his protection as well as ours, and that failure to comply could result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination.


  • I guess I would want to know the details of the alleged assault.

    Sexual assaults are obviously against the law and there are severe consequences for those that break the law. So why should you have any confidence that the employee will comply with your agreement?

    In other words, if the threat of prison wasnt enough to keep him from sexually assaulting someone, why would you think your "precautionary measures" will be effective?

    Unless you have information that leads you to believe the individual is not a threat to the public, I would be very uncomfortable with your arrangment.
  • I am hoping the company (you) did your own investigation before taking any action.

    If the sexual assault charge resulted from an accusation resulting from the employee's personal relationship (wife, girlfriend, dating partner, etc.) rather than an assault on a stranger, it may be handled quite differently. If the former, your solution does not sound out of place to me, and the company can wait for the results of the trial. However, if the later, I would be a lot more cautious about placing others in harms' way and would consider termination. Even if you had to pay unemployment benefits, it would be better than a negligence lawsuit.
  • To date, the employee is still in jail and we have taken no action regarding his employment. We're not in a position to investigate because we don't know who the party is that filed charges. We have limited information, but it sounds like he met this woman in a bar and took her to his place for a massage. Her charge is that he had sex with her three times against her will.

    He's a respected member of the department and community from what I gather. He came in second for county commissioner a couple of years ago (not that that has any real bearing).

    We've been sucked dry by putting people out on paid admin leave for months at a time while paying o.t. to backfill their positions; we don't want to reward arrested ee's by creating desk jobs for them while their counterparts run their tails off; we'll probably have to reinstate with back pay and benefits if we terminate based on an arrest and we're laying ourselves wide open for a negligence suit with our latest solution. Yikes!

  • Sorry about the rant...I really am looking for help. Can you see a workable solution that I'm missing? Thanks!
  • If the employee called in sick, what was he doing at a bar? What does your policy say about calling in sick and lying about it?
  • You could start by asking the employee to explain his side of the situation. I am afraid you have the worst possible scenario. The incident could be a situation where the woman has an agenda or perhaps is unstable and has now filed sexual assualt charges after what could have been a consensual act.

    Or you have a very serious, terrible violation and crime and you should act decisively to protect your other employees, your clients and your organization.

    Unfortunately its a he said, she said. I think you do need to suspend the employee pending more information. Do you have an attorney that you are working with?
  • In response to Nae, the employee called off sick for the two shifts following the alleged incident, but prior to his arrest, so we can't definitively say he misused sick leave. Yesterday was his first no-call-no-show.

    To Paul...yes, we can ask the employee his side of the story when he is released. If it was a situation that got out of hand, but not likely to reoccur while he's on duty, do you think we can still safely suspend w/o pay?

    And we're working on retaining an attorney for this specific situation. The one we have currently may not be equipped to handle this.
  • I agree. Suspend without pay, pending disposition of charge. Recheck your policy book for grounds (morale and moral grounds, conduct causing ill-will, absence policy, etc.). Don't make things up, but find solid reasons in your handbook to justify your actions.

  • Thanks to all who posted! I appreciate your insights and experience.
  • We had a similar situation with a police officer. He was accused of an off-duty sex crime. Our intent was to investigate and take action irrespective of what happens in court. Even if he was found not guilty, we could still discipline or terminate him for his actions' impact on the job. Remember that the standard of proof for a conviction is "beyond a reasonable doubt." The standard for an employment action is "preponderance of evidence." He does not need to be found guilty to be disciplined as long as his actions negatively impact his ability to perform the duties of his position..

    Our difficulty was that the District Attorney asked that we not interview the minor victim. Without interviewing the victim, we could not complete the investigation. The employee was on paid administrative leave for more than two years. We were regularly beat up in the press because of this. We finally decided to give the employee different duties. When he refused those duties, we terminated him. The union supported our action. We have now negotiated language in our collective bargaining agreement that would allow us to suspend the employee without pay when an employee is charged with a crime and we can't complete an investigation because of a request from the court or prosecutor.
  • Thank you for sharing your experience! We may be able to investigate, as we will be provided a copy of the TPO which may include the woman's name.
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