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Yes, You Can Be Fired For Lying About Your Qualifications

by | Aug 1, 2023 | Employment Discrimination, Employment Law, Federal Law Update, Gender Discrimination, Wrongful Termination |

Leda DaSilva-Flint worked for the United States Post Office. In applying for and accepting the job, DaSilva-Flint agreed to the Postal Service’s Standards of Conduct, which required her to be “be honest, reliable, trustworthy, courteous, and of good character and reputation.” Also, as part of the application process, DaSilva-Flint reported that she possessed a training certification that was necessary for the job. However, she did not. In reality, “the uncontested record evidence shows that she did not earn the certification because her training to obtain it was cancelled, due to her alleged commission of a major safety violation in her driving.” DaSilva-Flint v. Dejoy, No. 22-55382, 2023 WL 4676819, at *1 (9th Cir. July 21, 2023). Upon learning of these issues, her employer promptly fired her.

Undaunted, DaSilva-Flint sued the Postmaster General of wrongful termination based on gender discrimination. Obviously, there are several problems with her claim.

How do you prove gender discrimination at work?

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that prohibits discrimination in employment based on various protected characteristics, including gender. Gender discrimination under Title VII refers to unfair treatment or adverse actions taken against an individual based on their sex, gender identity, or gender expression. To establish a claim of gender discrimination under Title VII, the following elements must typically be proven:

  1. Protected Characteristic: The individual must be a member of a protected class under Title VII, which includes both men and women. Title VII protects individuals from discrimination based on sex, and this protection extends to discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
  2. Qualified for the Position: The “qualified for the position” element under Title VII refers to the requirement that an individual claiming discrimination must show that they were qualified for the job they sought or held. In other words, the person must demonstrate that they possess the necessary skills, qualifications, and experience required for the position. This element is essential in establishing a valid claim of discrimination because it ensures that the focus remains on whether the adverse action was motivated by discriminatory factors and not due to a lack of qualifications for the job.
  3. Adverse Employment Action: The individual must demonstrate that they experienced an adverse employment action, such as termination, demotion, denial of promotion, pay reduction, or any other negative employment decision. It could also include other forms of mistreatment, such as harassment or a hostile work environment, based on their gender.
  4. Similarly Situated Comparators: To establish a claim of gender discrimination, the individual must show that they were treated differently than others who were similarly situated in all relevant aspects. This means identifying individuals who are similar in qualifications and job performance but were treated more favorably in similar circumstances.

It is important to note that the employee must establish that their gender was a motivating factor behind the adverse employment action. It does not have to be the sole reason, but it must be a significant factor in the employer’s decision-making process.

In DaSilva-Flint, the lack of the necessary training obviously prevented DaSilva-Flint from proving the “qualified for the position” element, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit did not stop there. It further rejected DaSilva-Flint’s assertion that her misrepresentation of her certifications was simply an accident:

DaSilva contends that the misrepresentation was negligent rather than intentional, but in either event she was not qualified for the DSI position. An applicant who negligently misrepresents an important job-related qualification in applying for a position has not demonstrated that she is sufficiently “honest, reliable, [and] trustworthy” for that position. Similarly, having already demonstrated such unreliability and lack of trustworthiness in her initial application, DaSilva’s subsequent submission of a corrected application did not unring the bell.

Making sure to burry her case deep enough, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals further held that DaSilva-Flint failed to point to any “similarly situated comparators,” who had misrepresented key certifications and were able to keep their job.

As should be clear, an employer does not violate Title VII by firing employees who lied about key qualifications on their job application – as long as they treat all instances the same. Honesty and transparency are vital in any employment relationship, just like accurate data is crucial in making informed decisions. Employers have a legitimate interest in hiring individuals based on their true qualifications and abilities, not on a fabricated resume.

Before suing for wrongful termination, the employee should have sought counsel from an experienced employment lawyer. Consulting with an attorney could have provided a reality check and helped the employee understand the legal consequences of dishonesty in the workplace. An experienced employment lawyer would have advised against pursuing a claim based on fraudulent misrepresentations, saving the employee from unnecessary legal battles. At the very least, a good employment discrimination attorney would have stopped the bleeding and avoided a bad appeal.

Best Gender Discrimination Lawyer Blogs on Point:

What should I do if my boss is discriminating against me because I’m a woman?

Facing a gender discrimination case demands hiring the most qualified employment law firm to ensure the best possible outcome. Spitz, The Employee’s law firm is the ideal choice for handling such cases due to their specialized expertise in employment law, successful track record, and experience in gender discrimination matters. Spitz understands the unique challenges victims face and employs a compassionate and personalized approach to address them. With their skilled negotiation and litigation abilities, deep understanding of relevant laws, and client-centered focus, Spitz is the top firm to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf. So, if you have been wrongfully fired based on your sex, your best course of action is to call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation. (Read: What is the Spitz No Fee Guarantee?). Call our top employment lawyers in Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, and Kentucky to get help now.

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