My question pertains to terminating an employee for lying on their application. Does it matter how the company found out they lied? Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
Your question intrigues me because I’m trying to figure out how you found out about a lie in such a way that you are afraid to present the information as a reason for termination.
Keep in mind that private businesses aren’t subject to rules of evidence that courts of law are. But, as a general rule, you don’t want to accept heresay evidence for something as serious as a termination.
Generally, lying on an application shouldn’t be an issue by the time someone is hired. Why? Because you should have done your background checks. These checks should include convictions, education and past employment. You should do at least employment verification checks with your candidates–did they really have the jobs they said they did?
But, something fell through the cracks and now something has come to your attention. If another employee came up to you and whispered in your ear, “hey, I worked with Joe at another company and he was fired for stealing computers,” you may want to look into that allegation, but keep in mind that unless that other employee was directly involved with Joe’s original termination, he could be 100% wrong.
Gossip is a very bad thing to base a decision on. Gossip cannot be trusted and should be independently verified before you make decisions. Keep in mind, that even if Joe did steal the computers, he may have negotiated a voluntary termination reason from the former employer and since he wasn’t convicted of anything, he really didn’t lie on his application.
You do want to make sure that you are treating all employees equally. Why are you digging more into this employee’s application? If you are an equal opportunity digger, then go ahead.
If you don’t feel like you have a rock solid case of lying, but you really, truly, believe your source and want to terminate, I suggest doing so with severance and having the employee sign a general release. Severance can make people go away quietly.
And for heaven’s sake, do your indepth background checks before making the offer (or after making the offer, but make the offer contingent on a positive outcome). No one wants to hire liars and getting rid of one can get expensive. (Even if you are correct and the employee lied, it doesn’t mean there won’t be lawsuits and lawyers and severance payments involved. Is that worth the $100 you saved by not running a background check?)