Lying on a Job Application or Resume

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 What Is Employment Law?

Employment law refers to the broad set of state and federal laws that are associated with employees, employers, and safety conditions in the workplace. For example, some employment laws may apply to a case that involves employment discrimination, while other employment laws may serve as a guide for employers when they are creating company policies or employee handbooks.

It is important to note that there are federal and state employment laws, with the overall purpose being to protect any person who makes up the workforce. As such, there are employment laws that deal with all of the following employment legal issues:

  • Creating and enforcing protections for employees that are in the workplace, such as safety practices that are enforced by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (“OSHA”);
  • Ensuring that businesses do not discriminate against prospective job candidates or current employees during the interviewing, hiring, working, promoting, or terminating processes;
  • Creating laws regarding civil liability for persons injured in the workplace, as well as laws concerning worker’s compensation;
  • Providing specific legal rights to individuals who are self-employed or who are considered to be independent contractors; and
  • Ensuring that volunteers and interns are also afforded certain legal protections, such as protection from sexual harassment, discrimination, or retaliation in the workplace.

Can I Be Legally Fired for Lying on a Job Application or Resume?

In short, yes. Whether or not there will be any protections for being fired from one’s position will depend on whether they are an “at-will” employee or a contracted employee. However,if an employee lies on an application or resume, that will typically constitute good cause for an employer to terminate the working relationship.

When an employee is filling out an application, there will typically be a statement that the employee will sign or verify that all the information they have provided on their application is true and correct. As such, if a person is found to have lied on their application or resume, it will be considered a breach of that statement.

As mentioned above, whether or not there will be any legal consequences for the employee or employer for lying on a job application or resume will depend on whether the employee is considered an at-will employee or a contracted employee. Further, lying on a resume or application may also be considered fraud, and if the employer suffered damages due to the lie, the person that lied might be civilly sued for fraud.

Who Is Considered to Be an At-Will Employee?

As mentioned above, whether or not there will be any consequences for being terminated from a job will depend on the type of work relationship. Generally, an at-will employee may quit or be terminated for any reason, so long as the reason is not illegal. This means that an employer can terminate an at-will employee without having to provide good cause for the termination.

At-will employment describes an employment relationship wherein an employer or employee may terminate the working relationship at any time and for any reason, as long as that is not illegal. In general, this means that an at-will employee is being hired to work indefinitely, i.e., until the employee or the employer chooses to terminate the working relationship.

Once again, in an at-will employment arrangement, neither the employee nor the employer must provide a justified reason for terminating the employment relationship. Any reason will be considered a proper basis for terminating the working relationship, including lying on a job application or resume.

Once again, the employee can still not be fired for an illegal reason, such as being terminated based on discrimination. The overall issue with an at-will employment arrangement is that when the employer or the employee decides to terminate the employment relationship, the other party generally has no recourse to prevent the action from occurring. As such, an at-will employee that is found out to have lied on an application or resume can immediately be terminated from their job with no recourse for the employee.

Who Is Considered a Contract Employee?

As noted above, one of the most common employment arrangements is an at-will employment arrangement. However, not everyone is considered to be an at-will employee. Another common employment work arrangement is a contract employee. An at-will employment arrangement differs from an employment arrangement in which an employment contract exists, as an employment contract provides additional rights and legal protections to both employers and employees.

Regarding a contracted employee who lies on their initial job application, there may be provisions within the employment contract that provides for damages for the employer or termination procedures.

One of the defining rights of an employment contract is that it provides the right to specify termination procedures for the employment relationship. This includes requiring that the employer demonstrate just cause before they are allowed to terminate an employee.

Once again, if an employee lies on an application or resume, that will typically constitute good cause for terminating that employee. Misrepresentation on a job application or resume will almost always be considered a good reason for terminating an employee.

Are There Legal Consequences for Lying on a Job Application or Resume?

Besides possible termination, there are a few legal consequences for lying on a job application or resume. However, if an employment contract existed, then there may be additional consequences for lying on a job application or resume. Typically the consequences for lying on a job application for a contracted employee will depend on what is stated in the employment contract.

For instance, an employment contract may have a section for liquidated damages when either party breaches the contract. Further, the employment contract will also outline what constitutes a breach.

However, based on the lies, there may be other consequences for lying on a job application or resume and being terminated from your position. The following is a list of consequences that may occur when a person is terminated based on a lie on their application or resume:

  • Bad Reference: One major consequence of lying on a job application or resume, and being terminated as a result, is that a person’s prior employer may give them a bad reference when that employee is attempting to get a new job.
    • It is important to note that there are rules as far as what an employer may say when referring to a past employer’s prospective employer; or
  • Damage to Professional Network: In some cases, being terminated from a job due to a lie may also damage the employee’s professional network.
    • Quitting a job on a bad foot may result in the employee losing out on professional connections associated with their past job.

Do I Need A Lawyer For Help With Lying on a Job Application or Resume?

If you are experiencing any legal issues associated with being terminated, it may be best to consult an experienced employment law attorney. An experienced employment law attorney can help you understand your state’s specific termination laws and your legal rights and options under those laws.

Additionally, if you believe you lost your job due to discrimination or other illegal acts by your employer, you may be entitled to civil damages. An experienced attorney can help you initiate a civil lawsuit against your former employer in such a case. Finally, an employment lawyer can also represent you in court.


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