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News10NBC Investigates: If you get arrested do you have to tell your employer?

Berkeley Brean
Created: December 19, 2019 05:15 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — When we discovered that a Rochester City School teacher, arrested last week after she overdosed in her school, was arrested two other times since August, we asked the RCSD Superintendent's office if they knew about it.

The superintendent's office told us they had no idea. 

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So it got News10NBC thinking: do employers get notified when their employees get in trouble? 

We wanted to know what the law in New York says. 

With a couple of exceptions, the law says workers don't have to tell their bosses when they get in trouble. 

When special education teacher Tracy Lewis collapsed inside Franklin High School last week, Rochester Police say she overdosed and police found baggies containing the lethal drug fentanyl in her lunch bag.

RPD charged Lewis with criminal possession of a controlled substance. 

News10NBC learned it was her third drug-related arrest in five months and the city school district had no idea. 

I went to the home of labor attorney Matt Fusco.

I asked him to explain what the law says about employers finding out about their employees getting arrested.

"The law really doesn't say much about it," Fusco said. "Except in the cases of bus drivers and people with commercial drivers licenses."

Fusco says those drivers are required to report traffic accidents. Fusco says employers are not allowed to ask a job applicant if they've ever been arrested. 

Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean: "But if they're already employed..."

Matt Fusco, labor attorney: "If they're already employed the employer is free to ask but the question is - how would they know?"

Brean: "Unless they did it every day like a standard question: ‘Were you arrested last night?’"

Fusco: "Right."

Police records show Lewis was first arrested by Irondequoit Police for drug possession and petit larceny on Aug. 22.

"So in this case, involving the school district, how were they to know that during the summer break this teacher had been arrested?" Fusco asked. "Well they wouldn't."

The records show Lewis's second arrest, this time by the New York State Police, happened on a Sunday in September. 

The superintendent's office declined to talk to me about this story.

Tracy Lewis told me she has nothing to say on the phone yesterday.


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