Don’t Let Resume Lies Get Your Company in Legal Trouble

Data reported by background screening companies have consistently shown that 30 to 50percent of job applicants misrepresent themselves and/or outright lie on their resume.  While there is universal agreement that applicants falsifying their resume is problematic the fact is that it is not illegal. However, hiring a person based on what is presented in their resume can lead an employer down the path to some very hot legal waters.

Consider the following:

Professional Licensing Issues

Your organization business could end up in getting sued if you hire an unlicensed professional or someone’s license that has expired to perform the professional duties in fields that require a license to practice and someone is harmed.  Classic examples would be someone serving a medical doctor that is not licensed or providing legal counsel with a law degree.

Liability Issues

Hiring someone who is unqualified to do a job is risky business, your customers or patients could sue you for negligence if they are harmed. Although you may be able to sue the person who lied, you will have to demonstrate that the lie caused your business harm and that you could not have known the person was lying (if you did not perform a background check ‘good luck’ with proving that)

Termination Issues

Did you know that once you have discovered an employee lied on her resume, you might not be able to immediately fire her.If the employee has an employment contract or your state requires termination for cause, you may have to prove the lie or show that the employee is otherwise unqualified. Before you move to terminate the employee be sure to keep detailed and specific documentation of the employee’s performance short comings, mishaps and incidents. Also talk to the employee about the purported lie on their resume to provide them an opportunity to offer an explanation. If you falsely accuse someone of lying on her resume, you could be vulnerable to a wrongful termination suit and furthermore, if you end up in front of a jury it will look good that you gave them a chance to explain and who knows it might be your luck day and she actually admits it was a lie.

Post By Barry Nixon (70 Posts)

W. Barry NIxon, SHRM-CMP is the founder of, the publisher of The Background Buzz, The Global Background Screener, The Annual Background Screening Industry Resource Guide and In Search of Excellence in Background Screening: Insights from Accredited Background Screening Firms. He is co-author of Background Investigations: Managing Hiring Risk from an HR and Security Perspective, a recognized background screening expert and serves as an International Ambassador for the National Association for Professional Background Screeners.