Employment Lawyer Answers: “Can I be fired for lying on my application?” “What should I do if I was wrongfully fired?” “Was I wrongfully terminated?”
Wrongful termination. What exactly does that mean? It is not when an employee is fired unfairly, but that is part of it. It starts with the questions of whether the employee was fired for an unlawful reason, which includes being based on the employee’s race, gender, national origin, religion, age, military status or disability; whether the employee engaged in a protected activity; including , such as taking Family Medical Leave, filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim, complaining of Wage Violations, reporting safety violations, opposing illegal acts, or making other Whistleblower Claims; or pursuant to contractual provision. If an employee falls into one of these protected or contractual categories, the wrongful termination question shifts to whether there was the reason given by the boss is true and fair in relation to other similarly situated employees. Essentially, this question boils down to a question of was there or was there not real cause for the firing.
A lot of employers and there employment defense attorneys will argue that there was “clearly” justified reasons for the termination. As our experienced employment law lawyers know, there is rarely “clear” answers. Judges sometimes make strange decisions. Juries can surprise you. Take this wrongful termination case for example: Hired in 2001, Raymond Houde managed a facility and was a shareholder for Pinnacle Engineering Inc. and Pinnacle Project Services Inc. He signs a contract that says that if is fired without cause, he gets a really nice severance package (150 percent of his yearly earnings), his shares bought out, and some other compensation. Then, based on his qualification of having an chemical engineering degree from Georgia Tech, becomes the head one of Pinnacle Engineering’s principal departments, which designs and engineers offshore hydrocarbon production platforms.
So, one day a decade later, the majority shareholders claims that he found out that good old Raymond lied about having that chemical engineering degree from Georgia Tech. They fire Raymond for giving false credentials at the time of his hire. When Raymond refuses to accept a severance agreement with a nice payout that requires a five year non-solicitation agreement that prevented Raymond for trying to solicit Pinnacle’s clients, the company fires him for it claims is just cause. But Raymond sues for breach of his contract, claiming that he is entitled to his full severance per the agreement, which does not contain that nasty five year non-solicitation agreement. Pinnacle counter sues for fraud in the inducement – essentially that Raymond tricked them into giving him a job; and that his fraud caused them to misrepresent his credentials to its customers.
In the end, this case gets to a jury, who decides that Raymond did not fraudulently induce Pinnacle into giving him the job and signing the employment contract, and that he was not fire “for cause” under the contract. The verdict? $2,662,653 for Raymond.
Are we advocating lying on your application or résumé? Absolutely not. A different jury or judge might have tossed this case out altogether. But, what this case does is put risk on both sides when this issue comes up. In this case, despite the employer being certain that Raymond lied, the jury disagreed.
As such, this is case is great for employees because employment defense counsel and their employer clients often rely on the defense of after acquired evidence by snooping out any inaccuracy in a résumé or application upon notification of the legal claim. Once they find any such “lie,” they claim that they would have had grounds to terminate the employee at that point and cut off any damages. This goes to show you that such a defense of pointing to inaccuracies, or even flat out lies, give by an applicant at the time of hire may not be “for cause” reasons for terminating an employee several years later.
If you have been fired, discriminated against based on your race, national origin, gender, age or disability; or denied wages; or even think that you might need an employment lawyer, then it would be best to call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at 866-797-6040. Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm and its attorneys are experienced and dedicated to protecting employees’ rights and solving employment disputes.
The materials available at the top of this page and at this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you are still asking, “How do I …”, “What should I do …,” “My boss discriminated against me because …” or “I was fired for …”, it would be best for to contact an Ohio attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular employment law issue or problem. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm, Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.