With the proliferation of social media outlets and job search engines, including LinkedIn, Twitter, Monster.com, glassdoor and even Facebook, it is as easy as ever to get your resume in front of prospective employers. These websites are expertly designed to highlight credentials, strengths, connections and interests before a broad audience. Employers also benefit from these improvements, with a wide-array of potential candidates to fill an open position only a few clicks away.
At the same time, the door has opened for potential abuse. Employers seeking to fill positions through these outlets, as well as through more conventional forms of hiring, must always be on the lookout for manipulation and deceit. Particularly where positions require specific credentials, employers are well advised to do their homework.
Garg Consulting Services, a Connecticut-based construction management and inspection firm, learned this lesson the hard way recently. Earlier this year, Garg agreed to settle criminal allegations out of court for $390,000.
State and federal officials alleged that Garg failed to properly scrutinize the credentials of a bridge inspector working at Garg, who obtained employment at Garg under the false pretenses that he had earned an engineering degree and Engineer-in-Training certificate from the State of Connecticut, when in fact he had not.
Mr. Barry Kenneth Purnell Jr. pled guilty in March to criminal charges. He falsely claimed to have a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and an Engineering-in-Training certificate from the State of Connecticut, posting both phony credentials on his LinkedIn page. In fact, Mr. Purnell had taken some continuing education courses and attended some community college, none of which included engineering related courses. Mr. Purnell has not yet been sentenced but faces a maximum prison term of eight years.
According to state and federal officials, Mr. Purnell’s employer was equally to blame. Those officials alleged that Garg employed Mr. Purnell between 2007 and 2010 as a bridge inspector after failing to do “appropriate employee screening.” Garg submitted Mr. Purnell’s counterfeit credentials to meet requirements under its government contracts.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDot) spokesman, Judd Everhart announced that when ConnDot hires a contractor, “we consider it the contractor’s responsibility to vet and vouch for the credentials of employees.”
“Employers have a responsibility to make very sure that their employees are properly certified for the jobs that they are expected to perform,” stated the Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen in a press release.
The $390,000 settlement is a tough blow for Garg but could have been avoided through modest employee screening. Because employers can often be left on the hook for the malfeasances of their employees, employers must do more to weed out potential fraud.