Unless you work under an employment contract or are a member of a union, an employer in almost every state can fire you at-will. “At-will” employment means employees can be fired for any reason (or for no reason) as long as the reason is not discriminatory. However, an employee is unlikely to be fired for his or her driving record unless their job requires them to have a valid license (commercial or standard) or to drive a company car or rental car obtained by the company. That said, employers’ insurance companies may refuse to insure an employee based on their risk as a driver.
Many jobs require an employee to have a driver’s license or even a commercial driver’s license. Their driving record can have a direct effect on their ability to get and maintain employment.
Examples of these jobs include: truck drivers, traveling sales people, inspectors, cab drivers, Lyft or Uber drivers, or even daycare workers who transport children as part of their duties. Any employee who drives a company car or who just travels for business and drives a rental care provided by their employer is a potential insurance liability. Insurance carriers are going to encourage the company to conduct thorough background checks in order to minimize financial risk from bad driving.
Can My Potential Employer Pull My Driving Record?
Employers can pull prospective employee’s driving records. Depending on what method they use to obtain the records, they may ask an applicant for a release to get the information or hire a company to do a full background check. The applicant can refuse to sign the release, but you may not get the interview or job offer anyway.
New Laws: The DPPA & The FCRA
Congress passed two main laws covering access to driving records. The Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) limits access to personal, identifying information that on a person’s driving record (like their name, photograph, Social Security number, phone number, or address). State’s DMV’s are allowed to release the record (including personal information) to an employer for a permitted reason (examples include things regarding a commercial driver’s license, to verify the accuracy of personal information an applicant or employee provided to the business). If the provided information does not match up with the records, the full records can be disclosed to prevent fraud.
The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) limits the release of consumer reports, including driving records. It prohibits a consumer-reporting agency from releasing a consumer record to an employer for employment purposes. The consumer-reporting agency is obligated to give the applicant or employee a Summary of Consumer Rights. If the employer takes an adverse action against the applicant or employee (such as not hiring them or terminating them based on the information in her report) then it must send her a Notice of Adverse Action. This would tell her what information affected the decision. It would also give the name of the reporting agency. If this is violated, a consumer could have a claim against the reporting agency as well as the employer.
If the job requires an employee to drive a company car or a rental car rented by the employer, the employer’s insurance is liable for any accidents or property damaged caused by its employees. The employer’s insurance agents encourage a thorough screening of applicants and employee’s to limit liability by excluding high risk or uninsurable drivers.
Therefore, another way employers get employees’ or applicants’ driving records is by asking their insurance agents to get them. The insurance agency, must also comply with the DPPA and FCRA. The DPPA allows insurance agents to order these records for insurance purposes and allows them to share the information with another person who is permitted to have the information, such as an employer. Under the FCRA an insurance agent is under the same obligations as a consumer-reporting agency.
What Does My Driving Record Include?
Your driving record goes back several years. It includes unpaid tickets, insurance lapses and criminal charges like DUI/DWI, or a major traffic infraction like reckless driving. Any of these can raise your insurance rates or cause your license to be suspended or revoked. All of these things may make you uninsurable and unable to be employed at a job that requires a valid license. If you are a pilot and are arrested on a DUI/DWI you are required to report it to the Federal Aviation Administration. You may have your pilot license revoked if they find a substance abuse issue after an investigation.
If your driver’s record is less than stellar you can do some things to minimize the impact by knowing what is on it. Get a copy of your record from the DMV, take a defensive driving class to reduce points if necessary and pay off any outstanding tickets.