Use an ‘accuracy statement’ to sniff out applicants’ lies

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in Employment Law,Firing,Human Resources

Issue: Creating a legal basis to reject (or fire) people who lie on their job applications.

Benefit: Providing a "statement of accuracy" on applications gives you strong legal standing against applicant fibbers.

Action: Include such statements in applications, then make all job candidates fill out applications.

If your organization's job application doesn't include a "statement of accuracy," add one fast. In signing such statements, applicants promise that they've given complete and accurate answers. Such statements provide a legal basis for refusing to hire people who lie on their applications, or even firing employees if you discover their lies later.

One possible snag: What about applicants who submit only rÈsumÈs, not applications? Solution: Require all job candidates to fill out applications. Plus, as the company correctly did in the following case, include language in your employee handbook that threatens discipline (up to termination) for providing false statements in personnel documents, timecards, etc.

Recent case: To secure a job offer, Kevin Carter filled out a questionnaire that asked about his prior work injuries. It also required him to certify that the answers were complete and true. Carter disclosed having back trouble but didn't mention a prior back injury and treatment. In fact, he was still collecting workers' comp benefits for the injury.

When Carter told his new supervisor that he injured his back at a client's site, he filed a workers' comp claim. He sought treatment at the same doctor, who told the company that Carter had re-aggravated a prior injury. The company fired Carter for failing to disclose his earlier injury. Carter sued, calling the firing retaliation for his workers' comp claim. But a federal appeals court tossed out the case, saying his dishonest answers on the application violated the accuracy statements. (Carter v. Tennant Co., No. 03-2791, 7th Cir., 2004)

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