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Falsification of a job application, or lying during an interview, is generally considered disqualifying misconduct. However, that does not apply very easily if the claimant lied in answering an illegal question, i.e., a question that the employer is not supposed to be asking. For instance, the Americans with Disabilities Act makes pre-employment medical inquiries almost impossible. If your job application has a question about prior back injuries, and the applicant lies about that, the lie may not be considered misconduct. The ruling may be that whatever misconduct the claimant committed was excused by the unconscionable act of the employer in asking such an illegal question. Here is a list of questions that are usually illegal:
Have you ever declared bankruptcy?
Do you have any disabilities or medical problems?
Have you ever filed a workers' compensation claim?
What is your hair and eye color?
What religious holidays do you observe?
Give your date of birth:
What was your maiden name?
How many children do you have?
What arrangements have you made for childcare?
Are you a U.S. citizen?
This is just a short list. There are dozens of ways to violate various job discrimination laws by asking the wrong questions on job applications. Basically, you will have trouble with any question that gives any kind of clue whatsoever to an applicant's race, color, religion, gender, age, national origin, or disability. A good general rule of thumb for an application or interview question is whether it will help you decide whether a certain applicant is the best qualified individual for the position. If it won't help you make that determination, leave it off the application, because it can put you at unnecessary risk of a claim or a lawsuit.
Claimants who are proven to have lied in order to get a job can be disqualified from benefits, but the burden is on the employer to show that the claimant lied, i.e., intentionally misrepresented the facts in order to deceive the company into hiring him or her. That can be difficult in a case involving someone who claimed to have certain skills, but turned out not to be as skilled as the employer thought the applicant was. The difficulty lies chiefly in proving that the problem was not a simple mismatch between what the claimant believed his skills to be and the employer's perception of what the claimant was saying about his skills. A common excuse used by a claimant in a case like this is that there was simply a "mismatch", i.e., in a previous similar job, she had similar duties and seemed to satisfy the company, but the new company did things a different way, and she felt lost by the new procedures. How a company interviews for such positions is, of course, up to the company, but a way of minimizing the incidence of mismatches could be to give the interviewees, especially those who claim a certain level of experience or skills, a sample file or task and ask them to demonstrate how they would do the work. Such work-related tests are allowable under EEOC guidelines as long as they are fairly and consistently administered, and it probably would not take very long to sort the candidates out into categories pertaining to their readiness, fitness for training, and suitability for hiring.
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