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Can a Business Deny Employment Because of Lies on the Job Application?

Choosing who to hire is one of the most important decisions facing businesses today. It’s estimated that 30 percent of business failures are caused by bad hiring decisions.

When deciding on the right person to fill an open position, hiring managers look to the resume and job application to decide if the applicant possesses the proper education, adequate background and relevant experience he or she will need to be a contributing, productive employee.

But what if some of that information is exaggerated or outright false?

According to a survey by CareerBuilder, 58 percent of hiring managers said they have caught a lie on an applicant’s job application. Job seekers are increasingly choosing to try to stand out by embellishing their resumes and applications, and this can result in companies hiring people who are unfit or unsafe to employ.

How do businesses deal with job applicants who have falsified their applications while maintaining legal compliance? Here are three important considerations when application fabrications are uncovered.

First, understand that businesses

are allowed to deny employment


based on omission or misinformation on the candidate’s resume or application. A company is in no way required to hire a person who misrepresents his or her education, work history or lack of criminal record.

Then, note

when the falsified information was uncovered


. If the hiring manager discovers the misrepresentation during a background check, and the information is used in whole or part to deny employment, it’s required by law to follow

adverse action procedures


. The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act requires an employer to follow adverse action procedures when a denial of employment is reached based on information in a consumer report. A background check is considered a consumer report and is governed by this law.

When a job seeker is caught in a lie on his or her application, it is within the employer’s rights to deny this person employment. However, it’s crucial that the hiring manager and anyone else involved in the hiring decisions understand the requirement of following adverse action procedures. Maintaining compliance will save the company from possible lawsuits down the road.

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