Oh, What a Tangled Web We Weave: Resume Fraud as a Defense to Employment Claims


In an increasingly competitive job market, job-seekers are quick to take whatever steps they can to present themselves as qualified and attractive candidates to employers. Although there is no agreement on the prevalence of resume fraud, with the proliferation of websites geared to assisting job applicants in strategically “embellishing” their resumes, it is no surprise that job application fraud and resume fraud have risen dramatically in recent years. Employers need to address this type of fraud not only because poorly qualified employees can cause a loss of productivity and efficiency in the workplace, but also because of the wasted expenditures associated with recruiting and hiring such candidates. Moreover, if employers do not thoroughly verify the information contained on resumes and job applications, it may only be in later litigation, if ever, that they will uncover a fake master’s degree, falsified management experience, or an undisclosed felony.

Once resume or job application fraud has been discovered, what impact can this discovery have on an employer already embroiled in litigation with a former employee? Can employers use an employee’s resume or job application fraud as a defense to an employee’s claims? In May of 2008 the New Jersey Supreme Court provided some answers to the question, holding in a 7-0 decision in Cicchetti v. Morris County Sheriff’s Office that despite failure to disclose an expunged criminal conviction on his employment application, a sheriff’s officer could pursue discrimination and hostile work environment claims against his employer.[1]

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