False CV sackings could be unlawful

Although last week Patrick Imbardelli, chief executive of Intercontinental Hotels' Asia Pacific Region resigned after his employers found he had lied on his CV, solicitors warn that firing someone for overstating their qualifications could land a firm in trouble with the law.

Sue Ashtiany, head of employment at Nabarro, told Online Recruitment that caution should be used for cases where someone has embellished a CV or failed to disclose a disability, which is later revealed.

"Employers can be quite lax about checking the details of a CV or application form and often rely on fairly basic recruitment tools. However it can also be quite questionable if they start trying to use the fact that a CV is incorrect to dismiss an employee some time after he or she has started work. You could ask what has suddenly become so relevant? It is a matter of fact and degree.

"For example none of us would want medical treatment from a bogus doctor. On the other hand how much can it really matter whether the CEO did or did not get a university degree 20 years ago?

"For more junior employees who are not performing very well in the probationary period, it is quite common to find an application form that contains gaps, doesn't quite make sense or is written with a lot of help by someone better qualified. For more senior people a company will only usually review the CV if something else seems to be unravelling."

She added that courts in Britain and Northern Ireland can be sceptical of dismissals in cases where an employee has lied on a CV.

"In addition, it can be unlawful to dismiss someone if, say, they haven't revealed a disability in their application because dismissing them for it could be disability discrimination," she also warned.

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