Can you be fired for filing bankruptcy?
Potential clients typically want to know “Can you be fired for filing bankruptcy?”
The short answer is: no you can’t be fired for filing bankruptcy if you live in Georgia. Your current employer cannot fire you just because you filed bankruptcy. The new job you want, on the other hand, may not be yours if you file bankruptcy.
First off: A May 2011 case from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals outlines the nuances and subtleties of how the court’s holding impacts your life.
We have always known that people who hold government jobs are protected from being fired from one’s current job and also being discriminated against for filing bankruptcy when it comes to looking for a new government job, or getting promoted.
What was murkier discrimination-wise was the distinction between keeping one’s current job and obtaining a new job when it comes to private employers.
The Myers decision makes clear that private employers can deny employment to potential employees because the have filed bankruptcy. Private employers cannot fire you strictly because you filed. Private employers cannot refuse to promote you because you filed. But they absolutely can refuse to hire you.
How do they find out that you’ve filed? They can ask you. And even if they don’t ask you, information about your bankruptcy case appears on the first page of your credit reports and in publicly available databases. Unless Congress changes the law to protect your financial privacy, you’ll most likely give employers the right to review your credit history as part of your application. Some employers get this authorization, but never bother to pull credit reports. Other employers get authorization but are only looking for criminal or fraud charges.
This is a nuanced thought process.
I cannot tell you if your future employer will care more that you filed bankruptcy than he or she will care that you had a string of bad debts before you filed (and that would have still been around your neck had you not filed bankruptcy). I also cannot tell you if your employer will care more about where you went to college, your hometown, which fraternity you pledged, your religion, or where you live, or what care you drive, than whether you filed bankruptcy. Your future employer is entitled to retain personal preference in employment decisions so long as there is no violation of ‘protected classes.’
In time there may be laws to protect financial privacy; until then the decision to file a calculated risk. Will you benefit more from the discharge of debts than you stand to risk from possible employer discrimination? Don’t let this fear stop you from determining whether it’s in your best interest to file bankruptcy. Let’s decide together before you file…