Does an employer have an obligation to check and verify an employee’s resume and credentials?
Alright, let’s dive straight to this case of Anthony Dass S Rajagopal v Strategic Research & Consultancy Sdn Bhd  2 MELR 47.
In the Anthony Dass case, the employee in question represented to the company that he was in a possession of a PhD. His name card with his previous company had “PhD” written after his name, without mentioning the university. It was later uncovered that this PhD was obtained through a distant learning program conducted by a private university in Vancouver, and was not recognized in Malaysia.
The Industrial Court found that the company was to blame because they did not vet the employee’s doctorate before hiring him. This was despite the fact that the Court recognized that “the employee should have realized that an unrecognized doctorate cannot be put on par with a recognized one and it would have been wise on his part to have made it clear that his doctorate was not recognized before he was employed, to avoid any misunderstanding.”
The Court found the dismissal to be unfair, but reduced the compensation awarded to the employee on the basis that the employee had an ethical duty to inform his prospective employer of the status of his doctorate.
The Industrial Court went on to say that this should be a lesson for employers to examine their recruitment policies carefully, as a mistake in the selection process which is not resolved in a proper manner could lead to the company paying compensation.
This case should not be taken as absolving employees from lies and misrepresentations made on their resumes or application letters. In the Anthony Dass case, the employee was “handpicked” to join the company and did not fill in any application form or attend any interview. There was also no express misrepresentation that his doctorate was qualified. The employee had just failed to clarify or correct an erroneous assumption by the employer. It is based on this factual context that the Court assigned most of the blame on the employer.
What can we learn from Anthony Dass case?
While we all know that honesty is the best policy, employees should obviously avoid putting inaccurate or false information in their resumes and application letters. Pretending to have qualifications you do not have is a fast way to dismissal and can severely damage your reputation in the job market. Employees should also be wary of intentionally hiding or concealing the actual truth to prospective employers.
Employer on the other hand are advised to have a proper policy for vetting and verifying prospective employees before they are hired, especially if certain qualifications are mandatory requirement to the job. Towards the end, please note that it is more difficult to dismiss a deceitful employee than it is to not hire them in the first place.