Lying on a Job Application or Resume

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Is it Legal for My Employer to Fire Me for Lying on a Job Application or Resume?

An employer has every right to fire an employee for lying on a job application. Most job applications have a signature field at the bottom. If the application is done online, there is usually a box to check. Before the signature field or the box check is text that will say something along the lines of: I certify that everything I have written here is true to the best of my knowledge. I understand that I can be terminated if the information found herein is proved to be false.

The employer has hired the employee by entering into a contract with the employee based on information provided in the employee's application. The application is a legal document, which is why the application is necessary even though you have submitted a resume. If some of these facts happen not to be true, then the employee has misrepresented himself to the employer and the contract can be considered invalid.

Lying on your resume can also lead to termination depending on what the lie was about. For example, listing the wrong year of graduating from college would not be as serious as claiming you earned a degree that you didn’t earn.

Misrepresenting yourself is a kind of fraud and an employer is very unlikely to be interested in building a relationship with someone who has misrepresented themselves in order to get hired.

Are There Any Other Consequences For Lying On a Job Application or Resume?

Not only can an employee be terminated immediately upon finding false information in an application or resume, but the employee can also be treated unlawfully by the employer and not be able to hold the employer liable. In other words, if an employer wrongfully terminates an employee because of the employee's religion or some other non-work related personal factor, the employee may not be able to hold the employer liable if the employee got the job in the first place by lying on a job application or resume. An employer cannot successfully use this defense in every circumstance.

If an employee lied on a job application or resume, the employer must prove in court that the false information provided was a contributing factor in the employee getting the job. In other words, the employer must show that the employee lied about some aspect that would illustrate his capability for performing the required job tasks, and that the employer would have not hired or at least fired the employee had it found out earlier.

Your reputation can be irreparably damaged from lying on a job application or resume. In an era of transparency via social media, job-seekers need to be very careful to be honest and accurate in how they represent themselves.

Is an Inconsistency the Same as a Lie?

Social media accounts are a window into a person’s personal life. However, they also often contain inaccurate information. People are often not very up-to-date on their social media accounts. They update them when they open them and may not update them again. They may not notice errors. A savvy employer would take the time to verify inconsistencies found between a social media site and a resume or job application. This should make job seekers cautious, however. Avoiding inconsistencies of any kind is a best practice when job-hunting.

If the inconsistent information is not a matter of employment experience or education, but rather of religion or gender, it is not legal for the employer to discriminate against the applicant because of this. Religion and gender are personal characteristics that are constitutionally protected. For example, if an employer discovers through a social media site that their applicant is transgender, it would be illegal to make that personal characteristic a consideration in a hiring or firing decision.

What Should I Do If I Have Been Wrongfully Terminated From My Position?

If you feel you have been illegally fired by your employer, even if you have fibbed on one or two aspects of your resume or job application, you may want to consult an employment law attorney. Your attorney will be able to advise you of your rights and estimate how any misrepresentations of fact on your resume or job application could affect your case and your potential to be compensated in a lawsuit against your employer.

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Last Modified: 10-19-2016 10:23 AM PDT

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