A reader writes:
Without disclosing a very long back story, if someone gets hired where you work, and you know for a fact (100% positive) that they were fired from their previous position for stealing (money), should you alert your current employer? This “someone” could also be considered a friend…
If the person were only applying for a job with your employer and hadn’t been hired yet, I would say absolutely yes. If it later came out that you knew something so serious about the person’s integrity and recent past and hadn’t spoken up while she was being considered, it would reflect poorly on you.
However, the person is already working there now, so you can’t prevent the hire … which makes this murkier.
Frankly, if it were me, I’d probably give my manager a discreet heads-up — something like, “I feel really awkward about this, and I do think people deserve second chances, but I’d feel uncomfortable not mentioning this, especially if something went wrong.” Your manager can then decide how to handle the information, and you’ll have fulfilled any obligation you have by sharing it with her.
But I think a lot of people would argue it differently, so I’m interested to hear what readers think.
By the way, this should have come out in a reference check, so that means one of the following is true:
1. It did come up in the reference check (or the person disclosed it on her own), and your employer decided to give her a chance anyway. This seems fairly unlikely, since stealing money is a big deal and it happened at her most recent job, not in the far distant past, but it’s possible.
2. Your employer didn’t do a thorough reference check. They either didn’t check references at all, or they only relied on the references she supplied and didn’t check any further. This is dumb, but not uncommon.
3. The person deceived your employer during the hiring process in some way — either by leaving that job off her resume entirely so they didn’t know to check that reference, or by lying about why she left and they took her at her word without verifying it, or by lying about who her manager was there and putting them in touch with a fake reference who would say what she wanted. (The last two traps are avoidable by a company with thorough reference-checking practices, but many, many aren’t thorough — especially smaller organizations.)
In any case, since you say that this person “could be considered a friend,” one possibility is to simply ask her: “Hey, how did it go with talking to them about what happened at XYZ Company?” If she says, “Oh, ha, I didn’t even mention that job on my resume, so they don’t know about it,” you could certainly tell her that she’s put you in an uncomfortable position by expecting you to cover for her with your employer.
What do others think? How would you handle this?