If I file Bankruptcy can I lose my job
Clients often ask whether their job may be in danger if they file bankruptcy and / or whether the employer will know if I file bankruptcy. The short answer is generally no. In fact, usually the fact that you have filed bankruptcy is not even known to your employer. The bankruptcy court doesn’t routinely send notices to an employer when her employee files bankruptcy. There are very rare exceptions. One occurs if you owe your employer money. If you do, you’re required to list him or her as a creditor and s/he DOES get a notice from the Court. Another exception occurs where one’s professional license is directly connected to his / her credit profile. I know of one client whose license as a professional certified financial planner was revoked after he filed bankruptcy, a risk he knew of prior to filing, but in the face of which needed to file anyhow.
Will employer know If I file bankruptcy and fire me?
Thankfully, these exceptions are extraordinary. Now to the question of whether you can be fired for filing bankruptcy. I cover this in greater detail in my article about security clearance and bankruptcy. Generally an employer is not permitted to fire an employee just because the employee files bankruptcy. As a practical matter, for most employers the occurrence of an employee filing for bankruptcy would be much more information than he/ she wants. For the vast majority of employees, filing bankruptcy is not even relevant to their occupational responsibilities.
I don’t want to minimize the invasion of privacy one would feel IF one’s employer learned of his employee’s bankruptcy filing. There is a very good reason I qualify this with a big “IF.” That reason is that in my twenty-one years in practice the only time I know of a client’s employer learning of the bankruptcy was when a client informed his boss that he needed to file. That employer so highly valued his employee that he paid the client’s fee in order to expedite the bankruptcy and free his employee of the distraction of creditors calling. We should all have a boss so generous;)
Military employment and Security clearances
Military service members especially and also many other government employees have unique risks when it comes to finances. The folks up the chain of command expect their subordinates to have their finances in good order. Otherwise – and this is the conventional, but proven wisdom – the employee may be tempted to do something unethical, illegal or downright treasonous in order to avoid the worst consequences of being in debt. Many military service members and those in the intelligence services risk losing their security clearance if their finances aren’t sound enough for the commander’s / supervisor’s criteria. Often as not, the employee’s work requires that security clearance so losing the clearance = losing the job. Please also read my article on “Security Clearance and Bankruptcy.”
It may seem ironic, but I’ve represented clients whose security clearance came up for review and their supervisor’s advice was to consider bankruptcy. In one such case, the supervisor actually gave the employee – who was working for a defense contractor – an ultimatum: file bankruptcy or you’ll lose your clearance and, therefore, your job. All is well with her now, having gotten her bankruptcy discharge (which, by the way, the supervisor also demanded to see.)