The next question is whether employing the individual carries a current workplace risk — regardless of the publicity. Dr. Derm could open himself up to a wrongful termination suit if he can’t tie the domestic violence incident directly to a specific workplace risk. Termination of the employee becomes more difficult if the offender is a good performer, co-workers don’t feel at risk, and the employee’s spouse does not work in the office. Patients cancelling appointments is not enough to terminate the employee.
The situation might be different if the abuser is in the public spotlight, for example, as a face of the dermatology practice. If that were the case, it becomes safer to let the employee go, particularly if the person is working under an agreement that includes strict prohibitions on offensive behavior. At that point, since the person’s actions are likely eroding your brand, it becomes easier to apply the “workplace risk test.” That is questionable with Dr. Derm’s situation where an unknown employee has been accused of the crime.
This situation also would be different if a person convicted of domestic violence is in a position as a role model for other employees. Keeping this person at an administrative level, could then erode the reputation of the office. That could be grounds for making the argument that the person poses a threat to your business.
In the end, despite the poor publicity this incident has brought to Dr. Derms’s practice and the potential for some financial loss if she stays employed, he would have been wise not to terminate her until — and if — she is convicted of domestic abuse.