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Telling the Truth on Your Resume

Many people go to great lengths to try and impress an employer when on the job hunt. According to Steven D. Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics, over 50 percent of people lie on their resume. People lie about their education, the scope of their responsibilities at a job, acquired skills and qualifications. However, now employers are cracking down and double-checking the claims on your resume. Those that are not completely honest are being refused jobs, and those already in a job will lose the job and any related unemployment benefits. Employees can really jeopardize their future when they lie about their past. Take it from Nina Wilson, who lied on her application and was questioned on whether this could disqualify her from unemployment benefits.

The Case

Nina Wilson lied on her application about receiving a GED at the Minnesota Educational Center. She was hired in a customer service role, but was fired a couple months later when a background check could not find any evidence that she had earned a GED or completed high school. Once fired, Wilson applied to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) for an unemployment claim. Wilson was granted unemployment benefits, but her company appealed the decision. This started a battle regarding the definition of "employment misconduct". According to the Minnesota Statutes, a worker can be denied unemployment benefits if he or she committed employee misconduct. This is defined as "any intentional, negligent, or indifferent conduct, on the job or off the job, that displays clearly" a serious violation of the standards of behavior the employer has the right to reasonably expect of the employee". The court was tasked with deciding if lying on a resume constituted employee misconduct.

The Decision

In the end, after hearing arguments on both sides, Minnesota Supreme Court held that lies and misrepresentations on an employee's application qualified as employment misconduct. Minnesota is second on the list of highest weekly unemployment benefits by state and therefore take accusations of misconduct seriously. Minnesota Supreme Court upheld the state's heavy importance on education and therefore decided that Wilson's actions constituted as a serious violation of behavior that a reasonable employer has the right to expect. Wilson was found ineligible for unemployment benefits.

What Does This Mean?

This upholding will now be set as a standard for Minnesota and employers within the state. It further defines the state's definition of employee misconduct to include falsifying information on applications prior to being hired for a job. It will make it easier for employers and HR managers to prove that an employee committed misconduct and therefore crack down on misrepresentation in resumes and job applications. It will be interesting to see how other states respond following the outcome of this case.

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