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Monday, September 15, 2008

should I tell on a coworker who might have lied about her qualifications?

A reader writes:

I am meant to sign my contract for a new job on this coming Wednesday. When the manager sent the email to me today, it was also sent to a number of people, as we will all be signing our contracts for positions of coordinators for an educational institution. I know someone on the list (say X) who did not have a degree few years ago in 2005. The likelihood that she has a degree now is very slim. One of her very close relative whom I also worked with before had cheated on her qualification. This seems to run in the family.

My manager did not seem to have thoroughly checked the qualifications of all of us. I am seriously in doubt if X has a degree and is liable for such a position. I have worked with colleagues who were not qualified before and have found it to be very depressing. I would not want to have this situation happen again.

What should I do? Should I email my manager and ask him to conduct a thorough check of all of our qualifications? Should I remain silent ? If I should email my manager, how do I approach him? How should I start the email ? Should I call him instead ?

You should do nothing.

You don't even know for sure that the person doesn't have her degree. The person didn't have a degree three years ago, you think chances are "slim" that she has received one since, and one of her relatives lied about her own qualifications. This is hardly conclusive. ("This seems to run in the family"? Come on.)

Besides, even if you did somehow know for sure -- which you don't -- is a degree even a firm requirement for this position? If so, for all you know, the manager waived the requirement for this person, due to her other qualifications.

More importantly, how does this affect you? If you were, say, doctors, and you knew that the person wasn't licensed to practice medicine, then the employer could be legally liable for allowing her to do so, and real harm could be caused to patients, and you would have an obligation to speak up. That doesn't seem to be the case here.

Addressing this with your manager (who you haven't even started working for, no less) would be unfair, make your judgment look questionable, and generally reflect poorly on you. You should drop this.


Anonymous said...

If a candidate called me and said "Please conduct a thorough check of all of our qualifications" I would do two things:
1. Chuckle.
2. Wonder if I'm hiring someone who is going to be a serious pain in the you know what.

Anonymous said...

Yes, we could chuckle. But when it falls on your back later on, you may ask yourself why I didn't act on this tip.

For a salesmen position, there would not be a problem if a person cheated on his qualification but not for a managerial position in an educational institution ! (common, how lowly are the standards nowadays!)

Anonymous said...

"More importantly, how does this affect you? If you were, say, doctors, and you knew that the person wasn't licensed to practice medicine, then the employer could be legally liable for allowing her to do so, and real harm could be caused to patients, and you would have an obligation to speak up. That doesn't seem to be the case here."

Are people not affected when they know that the one sitting next to them are cheaters? How can that person in this post trust the coworker ?

Alison said...

Anonymous: The letter-writer doesn't "know" her future coworker is a "cheater." She's just speculating.

Anonymous said...

People lie about their qualifications ALL THE TIME. Read: ALL THE TIME. Fudging dates on employment, overinflating their responsibilities, and downright lying about a degree. A good recruiter/HR Manager can see through this, or at least do a check. I mean degree verifications are like $7 and ONLINE for Pete's sake! My concern here lies with the writer: why do you care? You don't know this for's based on speculation and your past experiences with their family. I have an uncle who's a drunk. I haven't seen him in nearly 8 years. Am I, therefore a drunk? No. Stop with the just going to make yourself look bad. Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

I'd agree with the author and add:

Becoming involved with other people's information, especially on the record, could come back to bite you legally.

Anonymous said...

Why should the poster care?

Well, if X is in his team, it would cause havoc at the workplace.

Some people care about the reputation and well being of their organization, and not just their paycheck.

Alison said...

Some of these anonymous comments are from the letter-writer, but in any case, the issue of how it affects you is trumped by the fact that you don't actually know for sure. You're just speculating.

saf said...

Liable for such a position? And YOU are going to work for an educational institution?

Anonymous said...

If you spread info about this candidate that turns out to be false, you could be legally liable for the damage her career and reputation. (That's the correct use of liable, by the way, unlike the letter writer's!)

But that's not even the point. You sound like you have a weird grudge here or something and are the type of person who is also going to tattle on your colleagues for all kind of other imaginary offenses. You really should drop this because it's making YOU look bad.

Unknown said...

Honestly, the person writing the complaint isn't making a real, verifiable issue. It's all hearsay and conjecture.

And, I have to admit, some of the grammar used in the original reader question raises a flag too. In addition, why would an employer send a mass email to everyone signing one contract? I would think an employment contract would be one of those things important enough to warrant even an individual email message for reasons like this (i.e. preserving the privacy of the "new recruits.")

It just sounds like a personal complaint to me. The mention of the close relative bothers me, as well as the assumption that the hiring manager has not done his/her due diligence. Lots of assumptions with little fact to back it up.

HR Godess said...

In HR, I get situations like this all the time. If I could say what I really think, I'd say, "Don't you have some work to do?"

Unfortunately, that wouldn't go over well with my employees. I always try to reiterate what affect, if any, it will have on the department or organization. If there is some merit to the fact that it would cause harm to the company, I'll investigate. If not, I explain to the employee why it's not a concern and thank them for bringing it to my attention anyway.

I agree that if this person brings up her speculation at this time with the little amount of information she has right now, she wouldn't look good in the eyes of her manager.

While hearsay is just that, I sometimes get my best tips from hearsay so I'm not so quick to shoot it down. What is done with the information is another story.

Anonymous said...


I am the one who sent the email to ASK A MANAGER. I must admit that it was done hastily and I have asked him to post a modified version of my email but he wouldn't do so. Grudgingly, I suppose !

Meanwhile, I wrote to my manager regarding my concerns and received a very good response from him, thanking me for highlighting the issue and reassuring me that his team would take care of it.

I would like to thank you all for your pieces of advice and comments. However, what I have found is that they are very American- and Euro –centered, which may definitely not apply to other places around the world where there is a different ‘managerial culture’.

Unfortunately, I do not have much time to expand further. But, there is little doubt that culture heavily influences the way people manage their workplaces .

I also posted a link yesterday about a professor who had lie for 26 years about his qualifications and who had to resign at 63 years old ( This post got deleted by ASK A MANAGER !

Thank you.

Ask a Manager said...

I don't delete comments (unless they're spam), so that's just not correct. I'm not sure why you'd jump to that accusation rather than considering the possibility of technical problems (although I guess I shouldn't be surprised, given that the whole letter is about jumping to accusations!).

I declined to change the contents of the original post to substitute your re-written letter after the fact, because I don't change the content of posts after they're already made (as it would in some cases require me changing nuances of my answer). If you disagree with this policy, sorry. It's my blog and that's how I prefer to do things.

I'm also not a fan of people posting anonymous comments about their own letter and not identifying themselves as the letter writer, which you did several times yesterday. If you want to defend yourself, defend yourself -- but don't try to disguise it as others defending you.

Anyway, I'm glad it worked out for you.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I have no words.

Talk about reinforcing the theory about "hiring someone who is going to be a serious pain in the you know what."...

HR Godess said...

AAM, you try to help someone and that's what you get in return?? I hope this one bad apple doesn't spoil it for the rest of the "bunch". I think you give great, sound advice, according to the facts you are given. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

I'm the anonymous who told the original post-er to stop being silly. What. a. nightmare. I can't imagine having someone like that on my team: a proud and nosy tattle who is vaguely manipulative, exceedingly accusatory and self-righteous.

Anonymous said...

Wow this is getting heated! I wish I did not have a job, so that I would have enough time to reply to all of the obnoxious claims made by the letter writer...however, I am gainfully employed and will thus have to keep this short.

AAM, you are right and fabulous. Anonymous letter-writer, you are annoying and should drop the debate before you make yourself look even more foolish than you already do.

That's just my two cents.

Thank you.