More than a few job applicants inflate their credentials to get hired. But what do you do when you discover the boss is fudging his resume?
Q: What if you work for the chief executive of a bank and, in the course of reviewing compliance documents that are filed with the federal government, you discover that the boss has falsified his qualifications? What if you independently verify that the altered information is false? What if this form is sent to existing and prospective clients? What if prospective clients were induced to open accounts based upon this information and then subsequently lose lots of money?
A: Resume inflation is a recurring nightmare for corporate America. Hardly a month goes by without yet another person being caught enhancing his credentials. His is the proper pronoun in this case, since ethics experts say it is almost exclusively a male phenomenon, in which men typically add academic, athletic or military achievements to their resumes.
In this case, the worker said that in the normal course of reviewing a submission to the government, he noticed the boss was listing a master's degree that he did not previously claim. Upon checking with the college, the worker found that the boss did not have such a degree.
Two employment lawyers and a human resources expert offered a handful of ways in which the worker could get the information corrected, but all agreed it should be corrected.
Both Declan C. Leonard, an Arlington, Va., lawyer who represents both workers and corporations in employment disputes, and Lynne Bernabei, a Washington lawyer who represents workers, said the employee need not confront the boss but should disclose the error to someone in the company in a position to get it fixed, such as a compliance officer or the firm's general counsel.
"In the current environment," Bernabei said, "these kind of things are under more scrutiny. Bring it up internally and say that this appears to be inaccurate. You can say that you're just trying to protect the company."
Leonard said he was not certain how material the misrepresentation is in this case, but nonetheless he said it ought to be corrected. If the worker anonymously tells one of the company's lawyers, Leonard said, then "I think he's done that which is required of him."
But Deborah Keary, who each month answers hundreds of employment questions for the Society for Human Resource Management in Alexandria, Va., took a harder stance and said the worker would be justified in pointing out the resume inflation to the chief executive and say that he also was handing it to the company's board.
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