My professional opinion about job applications is something I have shared with my e-law colleagues at Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor. Unanimously and persistently, we advocate for employers to require every job candidate to complete a job application. And if those words seem to cause an employer some mild discomfort, we stand fast and explain that no, it’s not too late to require your current employees to complete an application if you don’t have one on file.
There are lots of litigation-related reasons for our insistence. It is not uncommon to find that a former employee, now plaintiff, lied on their application. The most cunning (read, most dangerous) plaintiffs, though, don’t lie about their employment history or education. Instead, they just omit information. They skip sections of the applications or, instead of filling in the form as requested, they simply write, “see resume, attached.” Therefore, they avoid the dirty habit of lying to their prospective employer while, at the same time, avoid having to explain those pesky incidents in their past like periods of unemployment, criminal histories or prior terminations.
Our rigorous devotion to this honorable mission may explain why I take so much pleasure in the following story. I know that I will get a lot of leverage out of it in future seminars when pressed for an example of what difference it makes whether or not there is a completed job application for each and every employee.
The Workplace Prof Blog posted about an “unusual arbitration decision” (indeed!) in Quebec. A unionized teacher was employed by the Commission Scolare de Montreal for several years without incident.
Until, that was, it was discovered that the teacher had been convicted of manslaughter a number of years earlier. Not surprisingly, the teacher was fired. Not surprisingly, the teacher appealed the decision and his grievance went to arbitration. (Ok, maybe it’s a little surprising that he appealed).
But here’s where it does get surprising–the arbitrator ruled in favor of the teacher. And, even more surprising, the Quebec Superior Court upheld the decision, as did the Court of Appeal. An appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada may loom on the horizon.
So, employers, we plead, we beg, we implore you, please make it a high-priority policy to ensure that you have each and every employee complete a job application and provide all of the information that it requires. Do so, preferably, prior to the hiring decision. But, if it’s too late for that, don’t despair. Instead, start now by auditing your personnel files and having employees complete applications if they haven’t done so already.
Really, if it means you wouldn’t have to continue to employ a convicted killer, wouldn’t it be worth the minimal effort?