Employer Background Checks Uncover Lies

If You Lie About Your Criminal Record Don't Expect to Get Hired

I am always surprised to meet someone who still believes s/he is better off lying about their criminal record when applying for a job. With employer background checks a routine fact of life, the truth about your background comes out.

In 2009, a group of employers were questioned about their willingness to hire someone with a criminal background. When asked what advice they’d give someone with a criminal record, they said: be “upfront and honest” about your criminal history.

A recent decision by the federal appeals court in Chicago is but another example of why it’s better to tell the truth about your past.

A Job Opportunity Derailed

A Union Pacific employee applied for a position as a security guard. As part of the application process, the employee was asked if he’d ever been arrested, charged with, or convicted of a crime. The application form cautioned that a conviction was not automatically disqualifying but a false statement was. He answered “no.”

Union Pacific subsequently discovered, following a background check, that the employee had once been arrested for domestic battery. The employee was subsequently interviewed and again asked (three times) if he’d ever been arrested. Each time, he answered “no.”

Finally, the interviewer confronted the employee about the domestic battery arrest. The employee admitted to the arrest but, as if to explain his "no" answer, said that the incident had been a “misunderstanding” and the charges were dropped.

The employee was not offered the job, the company explained, because the employee lacked “integrity and honesty.” Had the employee answered “yes” to the question, the evidence suggests that he would have been offered the job. Sweatt v. Union Pacific R.R. Co. (7th Cir. Aug. 6, 2015).

Playing The Cards You Have

Recently, I met a young man who’d lost his casino job after failing to disclose an arrest for possession of cannabis. His rationale for not disclosing the arrest: he thought it might jeopardize his chances of getting hired since he had to pass a drug test. Like the Union Pacific employee, the young man’s decision to lie about the arrest -- not the arrest – caused him to lose the job.

Some employers will hire someone with a criminal background.

No employer wants to hire a liar.