EverythingPeople This Week!

Published on Tuesday, May 8, 2018

HR Employee Caught Embellishing Resume

Author: Anthony Kaylin

Recently, an HR employee was caught embellishing her resume, but it wasn’t discovered until long after she was hired. What happens now?

In the case of Bailey v. Oakwood Healthcare, No. 17-2158 (6th Circuit Court of Appeals, April 23, 2018), Bailey was hired as a Senior Staffing Professional for Oakwood in April 2013.   In December 2013, Bailey went on maternity leave.  During that leave, coworkers covering Bailey’s role found a number of errors made by Bailey in processing the applicants and her overall performance.  

Discovery of these deficiencies led the manager to review Bailey’s qualifications for the position, as set forth in her employment application. The manager’s investigation uncovered a two-year-earlier application for an Oakwood position by Bailey. When the two resumes were compared, there were discrepancies, indicating to the manager that Bailey had falsified her later application by exaggerating her prior experience and qualifications. Bailey’s manager and the Director of HR confronted Bailey with the discrepancies when she returned from maternity leave on March 20, 2014.

Bailey did not deny that the application contained inaccuracies.  However, Bailey contended that the word “falsifications,” is too strong to describe the situation, which Bailey characterized as mere “embellishments” of the time periods and job titles of positions she held at Beaumont Hospital.   Based on performance and falsifications found in the resume, Bailey was terminated from employment.

Bailey then sued for a multitude of a reasons, including race and pregnancy discrimination, among other reasons.   At the trial court level, Oakwood moved for summary judgement.  Bailey contended that her embellishments were insufficient to justify termination. She stated that the job descriptions set forth in both applications were consistent.

The trial court disagreed.  After summarizing the relevant discrepancies identified by Oakwood and finding Bailey’s characterization “more than a little disingenuous,” the court concluded that resumé misrepresentation by a senior human resources professional could reasonably be deemed sufficiently egregious to defy correction by mere counseling or other lesser discipline.  

On appeal, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s judgement for Oakwood.   Furthermore, the 6th Circuit Court found that Oakwood’s decision was motivated by dissatisfaction with her job performance. Oakwood identified various errors made by Bailey in processing applications for positions with Oakwood from April to December 2013, and the supporting evidence was overwhelming.  When confronted with these errors, the evidence showed that Bailey could not explain all the errors, only some.

With respect to the race and age discrimination claims, Bailey was hired by her managers despite knowledge of her race and age. Her direct manager was African-American, the same as Bailey.  There is no evidence that race and/or age was a factor in their decision to terminate her.  

Bailey also argued that her managers failed to follow protocol for progressive discipline by terminating her directly without counseling or any performance improvement plan.  The 6th Circuit recognized that HR could have handled the situation differently concerning the process errors but was not going to step into their shoes to determine if HR acted reasonably under the circumstances.  The termination was justified.

HR needs to ensure pre-screening is done correctly confirming the details of the resume submitted.  People want jobs and will take liberties with the truth, embellishing their resumes.  In this case, performance belied the resume details.  As Brian Hall of Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP writes, “Certain positions at a business, such as human resources professionals, require a level of integrity resulting in courts being reluctant to second guess employer decisions to terminate when the employee in that position demonstrates a sufficient lack of integrity to warrant termination of employment.”


Additional ASE Resources

Pre-Employment Background Screening - ASE can protect your organization from the cost of bad hiring decisions with our complete background screening services.  They include credit profile, education verification, reference interview, criminal search, and more.  For more information please contact Susan Chance.

Pre-Employment Assessments - ASE’s pre-employment assessment tools will give your organization additional insights into job candidates, so you can make better-informed selection decisions. Our verified tests measure skills, cognitive abilities, occupational interests, and behavioral characteristics.  For more information contact Mike Burns.




Source:  Bailey v. Oakwood Healthcare, No. 17-2158 (6th Circuit Court of Appeals, April 23, 2018), Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP 4/26/18

 


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