Criminal accusations are certainly not the same as a conviction, and there is a reason that the United States uses the doctrine of innocent until proven guilty. The idea is that the court is always supposed to presume a person is innocent unless the evidence clearly shows otherwise.
That said, there are plenty of stories of people being fired from their jobs after an arrest or after being accused of a crime. For instance, one man missed a few days of work, and his employer eventually found out that he had been behind bars. They fired him over the accusations, long before any sort of conviction was made. Why does this happen?
Two key factors that play a role
There are two things to think about here, and the first is why a company would do this. Generally, companies are looking to protect their own reputation. They don’t want all the news stories about this alleged activity to be linked back to their company, so they assume it looks better if they just fire the person, even if it turns out later that they didn’t do anything wrong.
The second part of the equation is that at-will employment laws absolutely make it legal for a company to release an employee who has criminal charges pending against them. It is true that many companies will use something like an unpaid suspension, but they don’t have to do so. It’s not illegal to fire someone in this situation. So it really depends how the company thinks the whole thing is going to play out in the court of public opinion, and they’re going to do the best thing for the company, even when the employee has not been convicted yet.
There are a lot of things to think about if you’ve been accused of a crime, including how that could impact your career. Be sure you carefully look into all of your legal defense tactics to protect your future.