Can you dismiss someone for lying in the interview?

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A good recruitment process is likely to reveal all of the information you need to determine whether a candidate is the right fit for your organisation from both a skills and character perspective.

However, there may be some information which a candidate holds back which may make you reconsider your decision. Lies may also be told to secure employment. What can you do when you discover this new information? Can you dismiss for previous conduct in another role, or for lying in the recruitment stages?

FA Removes Manager From Post For Previous Conduct

The Football Association recently took steps to remove the manager of the England Women’s football team after information came to light about his conduct earlier in his career as a manager elsewhere. Although there had been allegations that Mark Sampson had more recently made comments of a racially discriminatory nature about a player, it was the nature of the allegations in the previous role which appeared to be the deciding factor for the FA to dismiss him.

Sampson was, therefore, dismissed for behaviour which had not occurred during his current employment, but during a previous one. Is this a lawful route for employers to take? Surely they should only be concerned with their performance whilst at their organisation?

Many Factors To Consider When Assessing An Employee’s Suitability

Provided it undertook a fair procedure, the FA had a potentially fair reason to dismiss Sampson. Although the conduct occurred during a previous job     with a different employer, the FA found that the particular allegations made it unsuitable for him to continue in his current role.

This is a principle which could be applied in other more standard types of job. If an employer discovers past criminal conduct which would make them lose faith in the employee’s integrity – theft charges in a previous role against someone employed to be responsible for handling cash, for example – this may be enough to establish ‘some other substantial reason’ for dismissal.

Misconduct in a previous role will not always be sufficient to establish a fair dismissal by the current employer. The role being undertaken, and specifically the particular duties involved, will be pivotal to determining whether the previous misconduct now makes the employee unsuitable for further employment. The exact nature of the previous conduct will also be key.

It is important to note that dismissal for a spent conviction when an employee has at least two years’ service is likely to be unfair.

Employees Who Lie At Interview

Dishonesty is not a trait that employers will welcome, however, it is likely that many prospective employees may tell some form of untruth during an interview to make them appear to be a perfect candidate.

An employer who discovers that a current employee has lied during the recruitment process should balance the lie against the impact that it has on his continued employment. Does the gravity of the lie mean that you cannot allow the employee to continue? Has the employee already proved to be an excellent employee in his time with you?

Barring a lie which makes the employee’s continued employment illegal, dismissal for a lie told at recruitment stage may not be the action of a reasonable employer.

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Elena Boura