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My relative is currently a temporary employee at a community library. Having demonstrated good performance and fit over 6 months, she was recently encouraged to apply to an internal posting for a permanent position. Not only did she apply, but also received training in core responsibilities of the role while her application was considered.

All indications suggested she was going to get the job. Yesterday, however, she met with the library manager as well as the library administration. Turns out the manager had previously managed another library, where my relative was employed for exactly 1.5 months as a part-time shelver. Because this experience was not listed on my relative's job application, the manager accused my relative of withholding work history.

My relative decided to omit the part-time work in favor of more substantive work experience, such as eight years of work as a full-time circulation assistant at a library in another state. The manager considered the omission deceitful, since it disobeyed application requirements to list the four most recent places of employment and to certify the truth of all statements made.

As a result, my relative has been put under probation, and denied promotion. My relative is in her 60s and desperately needs a job. The whole situation seems so unfair, so I am hoping she has some recourse. The library is stand-alone in its jurisdiction, so the manager, the administration, and the board of trustees are the highest authorities she can appeal to. Can someone be denied employment for the aforementioned reasons?

  • Tagging as US based on "in the Midwest". – Lilienthal Jan 29 '16 at 18:57
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    There is clearly more here. The 'new' manager has something against you relative. Escalating the issue might be in order to find out why? As evidence, I point to the fact that the manager eliminated the potential position, so that if she appealed, there still wouldn't be a job. – Bill Leeper Jan 29 '16 at 19:18
  • Is it possible this manager had access to what should be considered confidential information about the prior employment or did she just see it first hand? – user8365 Jan 29 '16 at 19:43
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    This looks like a personal issue and nit picking to excuse employing someone the manager doesn't like or the manager has someone else in mind for the job. Nothing illegal about it anyway. They can refuse to employ anyone without giving any reason at all if they want. – Kilisi Jan 29 '16 at 20:41
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    Yep, I find it unimaginable that a omitting a short-temp gig from one's work history could ever be the REAL basis to terminate/punish someone who has otherwise done a good job. It is a flimsy excuse and if the relative manages to defeat it, she will have to face other obstacles. The only practical way out of this is for your relative to reach some kind of personal negotiated agreement with the person who is blocking her. – teego1967 Jan 30 '16 at 0:14
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Can someone be denied employment for the aforementioned reasons?

While unfortunate, and perhaps rather unfair, the answer is Yes - an employer can deny employment for not disclosing all prior jobs while certifying that you had.

It is especially frustrating to know the entire situation only became an issue because of the privy knowledge the new manager had and chose to take umbrage at.

That is frustrating. Unfortunately, it's a reminder to not omit short-term positions from your job history - because you never know how a potential employer might discover the truth.

In this case, someone who worked at the omitted job (the manager) recognized her and remembered she worked there. That sort of thing happens - in many professions, it's a very small world. I've seen this tale play out several times in my career.

Beyond an answer to my question, any advice would be appreciated. The library is stand-alone in its jurisdiction, so the new manager, the administration, and the board of trustees are the highest authorities she can appeal to (as well as the interim manager who will shortly return to his role as financial manager).

It doesn't seem that there's much to appeal here. I suppose you could try to make it a public issue, go to the local media or local town officials, indicate that a 60-year-old is being mistreated, etc. Honestly, I don't think that would help or be a good thing to do. As you indicated, the role she was seeking is being dissolved anyway.

Unfortunately, she may simply need to seek employment elsewhere, just as if this opening had never existed. It seems unlikely that she could force them to hire her if they really don't want to do so (for whatever reason).

  • If you have to put every short term position on there, how can you still keep it on a page (which is so often recommended)? Would you consider making it say "Selected work history" with a rider at the bottom "complete work history available upon request" or something? – corsiKa Jan 29 '16 at 21:44
  • @corsiKa - I'd suggest you put the more important positions in a section labeled "selected employment" (or similar), with the rest listed with just titles, companies and employment terms in a later section labeled "other employment". (If asked, you could say something like "those positions have less relevance to the position I'm applying for" or "those were explicitly short-term / part-time / etc. positions" as appropriate.) – Adam V Jan 29 '16 at 22:17
  • Is this to be taken literally? As in, when applying for an engineering position do I need to mention that time when I was delivering pizzas or making web sites for, er, the pizza shop? – Tobia Tesan Jan 29 '16 at 23:21
  • @JoeStrazzere oh, sorry, I only now understood (after your edit) that OP was talking about a requirement to list the n most recent jobs instead of a "plain" resume. – Tobia Tesan Jan 30 '16 at 9:08
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Is an employer allowed to deny a job to someone who withholds work history?

Yes. No federal laws prevent an employer from not hiring for this reason. As far as I'm aware, no state has enacted legislation that will prevent an employer from denying someone who provides an (intentionally) incomplete work history.

In the US, federal discrimination laws only cover discriminatory practices based on:

  • race
  • color
  • religion
  • sex
  • national origin
  • ethnicity
  • disability
  • genetic information
  • age

More detail can be found on the Q&A page for "Federal Laws Prohibiting Job Discrimination" hosted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

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When I was reading resumes to select people to interview for programming jobs, I was looking for two things, technical skill and work habits. Any job, regardless of what field it was in, is relevant for evaluating work habits.

For example, for a new graduate, repeated summer jobs with the same employer suggested good work habits - it is very easy to decide not to hire that person next summer.

The requirement in the application for the last four jobs may have been intended, in part, for that sort of evaluation rather than for specialized skills. If applicants were allowed to drop jobs, what would stop someone from dropping a job from which they were fired for cause?

Her best approach may be to show that the only reason she omitted the job was a failure to understand that "last four jobs" was meant to include even short term jobs, that she had no problems on that job that she would have wanted to hide.

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From my legal understanding, if the application did in fact require that the employee put their truthful and full work history on there and that employee did not comply, then technically, yes an employer is allowed to deny and even revoke a job.

Disclaimer: I am not an attorney and that statement should not be substituted as advice from one

More than likely, if the library manager went through the trouble of checking that information, then there is some sort of conflict that extends beyond the application.

FWIW, I think that is extremely unprofessional of the new manager. If she had some sort of issue with your relative than that should have been addressed better.

But I think that this conflict was inevitable and all efforts should be on seeking employment elsewhere.

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    If you are found to have lied (which an omission is) then they can fire you as well for cause. Of course in most of the US, they can fire you for no reason. But "for cause" means you can't collect unemployment in many states. – HLGEM Jan 29 '16 at 20:41
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    As a software engineer should I include those crappy jobs working on a farm during University, waiting tables. (BTW - The farm was better - the customers where more appreciative! - and they had the excuse that they are actually pigs and not behaving like them) – Ed Heal Jan 30 '16 at 9:32
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    @EdHeal note that the OP 's question is not about a resume, but about a employer's application form that apparently requested ALL recent employment. Certainly you can and should omit irrelevant jobs from your resume, but if an employer's application form specifically requests a complete employment history then you should clarify what they want before omitting something. The doesn't come up very often for software jobs, but it may be required for software jobs involving a security clearance. – Charles E. Grant Jan 30 '16 at 19:38

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