My New Employee Lied on His Resume – Can I Fire Him?


Candidates want and need to put their best foot forward when they apply for jobs, which is why some find it very tempting to embellish accomplishments or fudge some details in past employment history. However, wanting to impress a hiring manager and flat-out lying on a resume are two separate things. So what do you do when you discover that you’ve been duped? If you hire someone and later learn that he lied on his resume, do you have the right to fire him?

Justifiable Dismissal

Lying on a resume speaks to an individual’s trustworthiness. If they lied there, where else have they lied, or are they currently lying? Do they fudge their sales numbers? Do they lie to customers? Lying is always justifiable grounds for termination, and many South Florida companies have established written policies for lying on the job – including lying on a resume. Most have a short disclaimer in the application. If you do not have such a policy in place, you should revise either your application and/or your employee handbook to reflect a zero-tolerance policy. Even without such a policy in place, you can terminate an employee for misleading you by lying on their resume but you should consult your legal counsel before taking action.

Send The Right Message To Your Team

If you have discovered that an employee lied on a resume, odds are good that your team will hear about it. If they catch wind that you knew the employee lied and that you did nothing about it, it will send the wrong message. Your honest and trustworthy employees will become bitter, and you will have set the standard that lying is acceptable. Firing the offending employee sends the message of a zero-tolerance policy for dishonesty.

Word of caution: you should also handle any instances the same way – and document all of your conversations and disciplinary actions with employees. If, for example, you fire an employee today for lying on his resume, but the employee discovers that you kept another employee on five years ago who also lied, you could leave yourself open to a lawsuit. Consistency is of the utmost importance when it comes to hiring, discipline, and dismissals.

Covering Your Behind

Florida is an at-will state, which means you can fire an employee at any time without cause, but every employer knows that they must still document employee discipline and termination impeccably and apply rules consistently in order to avoid practices that may be construed as discriminatory.  If you do not have written policies in place for lying on a resume, if you have not applied discipline or terminations consistently over the years, or if you have any question at all, be sure to consult with your HR team and your attorney before taking any action.

Leave It to the Experts

The best way to avoid being duped by a candidate is to deploy a thorough vetting process that includes asking question and validating anything you are uncomfortable with. If the applicant is being evasive, continue to ask until you are comfortable with the answer. At CERS, we have developed and executed strategic hiring processes for clients in the West Palm Beach area and beyond. If you want to stay ahead of the curve and improve your recruiting efforts, contact our team today.

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