Author: Daniel A. Lublin
Imagine this scenario: You have landed the job of your dreams. Six months later, you get an email, summoning you to the manager’s office. Confused, you make your way to her office. You are joined by the human resources manager, who tells you that the company has discovered that you were dishonest on your resume, and as a result, you’re being fired.
Studies reveal that resume falsification is a common event. Statistics suggest that as many as 50 percent of all resumes contain some degree of distortion – from white lies to outright whoppers. While it is natural to expect that some form of embellishment on resumes will occur, there is a big difference between accentuating your strengths and creating new ones altogether. When it comes to full-blown lying on your resume, the truth is that you can be fired.
When will lying on your resume leave you looking for new work? Here are four legal points that the courts will consider:
- The false statement must be connected to the knowledge and qualifications the employer had in mind when recruiting you for the position. If the statement was about something completely unrelated to the position, you might be dishonest, but the chances are that a judge won’t consider it severe enough to have cost you your job.
- The content of the dishonest statements is important. Some false statements are actually viewed as less serious than others. For example, exaggerating your fluency in French, in most circumstances, won’t be cause for termination, assuming that it is not a specific requirement of that job. However, lying about having a specialized degree would probably be viewed as a serious workplace offence, considering that educational achievements are preferred considerations for most companies, regardless of the position being sought.
- The company must have relied on the statements. In other words, if the company would not likely have hired you but for your dishonest statement, that conduct could justify your termination.
- The company’s reliance on your false statement must have been reasonable. If your statement was entirely unbelievable to most people, yet the company was wilfully blind or simply ignorant of obvious facts, it will have a more difficult time justifying the decision to terminate your employment after the fact.
- The law implies that not every act of dishonesty can lead to termination. Often, context can come before content and a mere error in judgment can be overlooked, especially if there were mitigating circumstances, or an otherwise valid explanation. When it comes to your resume, however, it’s best to stick to the truth.