my coworker lied about her entire resume — should I tell anyone?

A reader writes:

I work at a small (fewer than 10 employees) firm as a mid-level associate. A few weeks ago, a close friend, Josie — who doesn’t work with me but lives in my city — showed me a photo of a woman while we were out to lunch and asked if she worked in my office. I said yes, it was our new (five months into the job) account coordinator, Larisa. She said Larisa is her cousin and that she had seen her post something on Facebook about where she worked and had connected the dots that it was my firm. She seemed surprised that Larisa was working there, and she shared that Larisa had only ever completed one semester of college and had been unemployed for seven years before getting this job. This surprised me, as I know that all positions at our firm require a college degree and cannot imagine we’d have hired someone with such a gap in employment.

Since it was bugging me, I went back and found the email HR sent out when Larisa was hired. It included a little blurb about her and said she had earned her BA from a local university and had come to us with 10 years experience in the industry. I told this to Josie, who said that that was the university Larisa had dropped out of after one semester, and reiterated that she had been entirely unemployed for the previous seven years. (Larisa is only 32. She’d been married for most of that time and supported by her husband’s income, but began job searching after they divorced earlier this year.)

My question is, do I tell my bosses? Larisa is fundamentally capable at her work and doesn’t seem to be failing at anything. Most of her duties are clerical and client outreach, not things which are too difficult to pick up on the job. If she’s not doing a bad job, is it worth bringing up to anyone that she does not have a degree or any of the experience preferred for the position she’s in?

I’m not worried about the accuracy of the information — Josie sent me screenshots of Larisa’s Facebook posts from around six months ago, complaining about the difficulty of job searching when every job requires a degree, experience, etc. and lamenting that she does not have either. I’m assuming she just lied on her resume and figured employers wouldn’t confirm her degree.

I know these are heavy allegations but I’ve been able to find absolutely nothing indicating that she ever graduated from college or held a paying job in the years preceding her being hired here.

Is this something I should flag for my bosses, or is it a case where the hiring manager’s lack of due diligence is what’s really at fault here? I’m personally really frustrated at this, since I took out loans and studied hard to get my degree only to wind up with a coworker who claimed to do the same without any of the work. I’m inclined to just leave it and not deal with any of this, but the AAM reader in me knows that if Larisa was willing to lie about such fundamental things in the application process, there are likely other issues with her character and professionalism. If it matters, Larisa is not my direct report but I rank above her in our admittedly small hierarchy.

My normal stance when you suspect a coworker has lied on their resume is that if your manager doesn’t bother doing any due diligence on hires — reference checks, background checks, etc. — that’s on them. So generally I’d say to leave it alone unless it’s playing out in truly problematic ways (like the person can’t do the job and their manager is investing heavily in coaching them, which she might not do if she knew the full story, or if it’s putting important work at risk).

But fabricating an entire work history is in a different category than, say, exaggerating one’s accomplishments or fudging the dates of a past job. To be clear, those things aren’t okay either! But making up an entire fake job history is a whole new level of egregiousness. And as you note, if Larisa were willing to do that, it would raise really serious questions about her integrity and trustworthiness.

So given that we seem to be talking about an entire fabricated work history and not just a couple of details, I do think you should talk to your boss. When you do it, though, make sure you don’t present this as absolute fact. It does sound like fact, but who knows what you might not know, and you want to be as objective as possible here. I’d say it like this: “I feel awkward raising this, but something was shared with me that alarmed me and that I feel obligated to share with you. A close friend of mine told me she’s Larisa’s cousin, and thinks that Larisa might have submitted a false resume. She said Larisa had been unemployed for the seven years before we hired her and only completed a semester of college. When I expressed surprise, she sent me more information that seemed to confirm it. I don’t think either of those things are inherently prohibitive — and if you hired her knowing them, then there’s no need for me to continue. But based on the info sent around about her when she started, it sounds like she might have submitted a fake resume to get hired. I realize I don’t have all the info here, and I certainly don’t want to gossip about a coworker. I’m not going to share this with anyone else, but I didn’t feel comfortable not passing it along to you in case it’s something you want to look into.”

By the way, note the “I don’t think either of those things are inherently prohibitive” language. That’s there because it’s true — people can do clerical work without degrees or experience. (So much so that if it were just the degree, I’d tell you to leave it alone.) But it’s also there because who knows, maybe your employer did know all this. Maybe Larisa didn’t lie on her resume, and somehow the HR person who wrote the blurb about her got some facts wrong. That’s pretty unlikely, given the extent of the discrepancies and your account of your company’s hiring prerequisites, but you want to allow for that possibility and not seem like you’re coming in guns blazing.

Ugh. If you’re right about this, flagging it rather than keeping it to yourself is the right thing to do. If you’re somehow wrong, this is going to feel icky — but it sounds credible enough that I do think you’ve got to have the conversation.

{ 1,020 comments… read them below }

    1. Alli525*

      How would anyone know that OP had this information? Currently the information only exists between OP and Larisa’s cousin, who does not work at OP’s company.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I dunno… The very fact that Larisa got outed to someone at her work is an example of how “only a few people know, so how would it even get out?” so often goes awry.

        1. anon4this*

          Outed by a family member as well, “concerned” for some rando company her friend works for.
          Weird situation for sure.

          1. valentine*

            I’m usually more “Report them” than “MYOB,” but OP has possibly done more investigating than her employer and that’s weird. I probably wouldn’t say anything. I’m not going to help anyone’s disloyal cousin take down someone who was possibly unemployed for seven years for a lesser reason than I have for letting Larisa be.

            1. Green*

              “Disloyal cousin” is a pretty strong moral judgment. I have a big Southern family and have different degrees of closeness with first and second cousins (all “cousins”), and some of them are not great people. Just because we happen to be related doesn’t mean we like each other.

              1. JustAClarifier*

                I would like to second this statement. “Disloyal cousin” is not a good way to look at this situation. You can be related by blood with someone but that doesn’t mean that person is a good person just by virtue of the fact that they’re a relative of yours. It reflects more on Larisa’s character than the cousin’s character that the cousin brought it up as a concern.

      2. Tequila Mockingbird*

        Larisa is being REALLY sloppy with the information all by herself, posting her malfeasance on Facebook.

        1. Working Mom Having It All*

          People do this all the time, and it SHOCKS me. I once had a coworker that used to post whiny badmouthing rants about all of us and how terrible his job was, publicly. It later surprised him that he found it so hard to get a new job after he left the company. It’s almost like… people see this stuff?

          1. Nyltiak*

            People are DUMB about this stuff all the time. I had a coworker who had FMLA for sciatica regularly call out of work FMLA for 3-5 days and then post all over his FB about vacations. Another coworker of mine would post rants about how much she hated our workplace and how much she hated the director and thought he was stupid, while having the workplace cat as a FB friend. She was shocked when she got fired over these facebook posts. The cat’s facebook was run by the director’s personal assistant.

            1. Tequila Mockingbird*

              “The cat’s facebook [page] was run by the director’s personal assistant.”
              Now that is hilarious!

            2. Detective Amy Santiago*

              I can’t decide what my favorite part of this story is: the fact that the workplace has a cat, that the workplace cat has a FB, or that dumb coworker friended the workplace cat on FB and complained about work.

              1. Nyltiak*

                So, it was a facility which had a veterinary medicine aspect. The workplace had several cats, it was in the country and the cats just hung out on the property. They tried getting rid of the cats (for a while nearly everyone who worked there had taken home a center cat), but since there was a niche for cats (safe, food sources, etc.), new cats always came when old cats left. So they started trapping them, neutering them and giving them vet care, and then just leaving them. They got a stable population up to date on vaccines and etc., the cats got a good home, everyone was happy. The Head Honcho cat, who was very cuddly, is the one with the FB page.

              2. sheworkshardforthemoney*

                My favourite part would be explaining in a job interview that you were fired for complaining about work to the cat.

                1. Quill*

                  This person would have done better to physically complain about work, in work, to the work cat.

                  “I hate being on my feet all day and being peed on by the clients, Mr. Whiskers!”
                  *purrrrrrrrrrttt?*

              3. KoiFeeder*

                Frankly, if I had a facebook and my veterinary office’s cat also had a facebook, I’d friend that cat so fast. He’s just a good little lad.

              4. Tora*

                I really hope they mentioned the cat during the firing process: “Muffy Buns has brought some disturbing information to light recently regarding inappropriate conduct on your part…”

            3. pope suburban*

              Yeah. I currently have a colleague who has been “out sick” more often than she’s been present until recently, and every day she’d call out, she’d also post pictures on facebook about going swimming at the pool with her kids, or going out and having lunch and a shopping date with her sister, or some other thing like that. I really don’t care if someone takes an unplanned mental health day because life happens to us all, but telling stories about how grievously ill you are before facebooking about your fun, active day off is…oof. Be your own best advocate there. Keep it off social media at least.

            4. Sharrbe*

              See, this is why you don’t become buddies with the cat. They’ll turn you in once the opportunity arises. Now, dogs will totally keep your secrets.

          2. Laura in NJ*

            I don’t understand why people still do that. Doesn’t anyone keep a diary anymore? Even if it’s an electronic one, like a Word file? To me it seems if you’re going to rant about your job, make a Word file “diary” instead of posting it to social media.

            1. C Baker*

              Or keep it on lockdown. Even on Facebook, there are privacy settings. Not everybody has to see everything.

                1. Quill*

                  Yeah, just do not post your diary ramblings to anything connected to your legal name, that’s like… internetting 101? Does no one else remember “internet safety” posters from the 90’s?

            2. Veronica*

              I actually did that when I had a very horrible boss. I ranted into my Word document for two years, never showed it to anyone, and deleted it when the computer went for recycling.

          3. Not a Typist*

            Back in the early eighties and computers were coming into more common business use, the company I was with hired a young guy who had just graduated with a computer science degree from a prominenet state university in our region. The kid insisted on having a contract, instead of being at-will like the rest of us. He was a jerk and a blowhard. His work was not good. One notable example was the afternoon he shut down the system without warning to install something and ended up crashing the system for the next 6 days! He bragged a lot about buying cars and a house; we ran a lot of employment confirmations for potential creditors. One day, a car dealer called my boss, the personnel director, and told her that the guy had backed out of a car purchase after signing a contract. In the course of their efforts to take action, the dealer learned that our guy had not graduated from college –he was a couple of semesters short.

            The company was not able to use this info since our lawyer said that it was improperly disclosed. However, two months later when the guy wanted to renew his contract, the company said “No thanks”, paid the remaining week on the contract and a couple of more for good measure, and walked him out the door. His replacement had been quietly recruited and started the following Monday.

          4. Common Sense Is Not So Common*

            I had a friend who started posting almost immediately after she got a new job (which, btw, would have been several people’s dream job) about how much she hated it, how bored she was, etc. etc. And she’d post in the middle of the day, from work. Then somehow she was surprised and upset to get fired after a month on the job.

    2. Working Mom Having It All*

      I mean, we’re not talking about a “mandatory reporter” situation or something where it was OP’s responsibility to vet Larisa’s resume.

      At worst, if this is found out, and if it’s widely known that OP and Larisa share a lot of social connections, it could get awkward that OP never spoke up. And, yeah, I don’t know, I’ve never worked at a business that small or had a situation like this, so I can’t speak to whether that awkwardness could be a real problem for OP or not.

      But I don’t there’s necessarily a lot of risk to OP regarding this.

      1. mark132*

        That’s one of the challenges to this situation. Unless Larissa, really can’t do the job there isn’t much upside to the OP for outing Larissa.

      2. Lilo*

        If OP is an attorney there actually may be a “mandatory” aspect to it. She could call her state ethics hotline.

        1. Tequila Mockingbird*

          What? I’m an attorney and I am under no ethical obligation to “out” staff who lie on their resume!

          1. Lilo*

            It depends. You have a duty to supervise your staff. If, also, you had incorrect information about a staff member on your website, that could be an issue. Hence calling the ethics hotline.

            1. Tequila Mockingbird*

              As I responded to you downthread, I don’t think you know how attorney rules of professional responsibility, or ethics hotlines, work at all.

              Attorneys have no “mandatory reporting” obligations whatsoever, to anyone.
              And OP is not Larisa’s supervisor – that’s clearly stated in the letter.
              And ethics hotlines only investigate violations of rules of professional responsibility by attorneys. They do not concern themselves with resumes submitted by clerical staff. This is an internal HR matter and nothing more.

              Please don’t make these kinds of ridiculous declarations when you’re obviously not an attorney. It’s just as dangerous as non-doctors handing out fake medical advice.

              1. Lilo*

                That’s because you’re twisting what I am saying. Larissa does not need to be reported to the bar, of course. It’s a question of whether an attorney who has support staff with known issues is on the hook if they then create problems for a client later.

              2. Lilo*

                I will note I am not the only attorney who raised this concern. Firms do have to pay attention to who they hire and that acting cavalierly on that point can get you into serious trouble.

                1. Mike C.*

                  If this were actually a law firm I’m pretty sure they would not only know the law but actually perform this sort of vetting in the first place.

              3. Green*

                It depends on the state, but attorneys do sometimes have a mandatory reporting obligation to turn in *other attorneys* for ethical violations. Also, I think in some states attorneys are mandated reporters for child abuse/elder abuse, particularly when in certain roles.

                It’s obviously inapplicable here, but your statement is also not quite accurate, and it’s obvious where the person posting (who should probably not post about law-stuff) at least derived it from.

              4. Bagpuss*

                I am in the UK so obviously our rules are different, but as a lawyer I would certianly need to consider whether tis was somthing I neeed to report. There are rovisions here whereby our regulatory body can issue a notice that someone may not be employed in/by a legal practice 9or that they may not be employed without first getting auithority from the regulator, who may impose conditions on the terms of any employment)

                While I don’t think that lying on a resume would in and of itself be enough to trigger that kind of restriction, I would, if I were the employer, absolutely want to know and to be able t consider whether it was something I should report.

    3. Autumnheart*

      I don’t think OP would have egg on her face. She didn’t hire Larissa, and wasn’t responsible for confirming references or anything. This is purely on the hiring staff.

  1. Detective Amy Santiago*

    If I was a supervisor, I would want to know this information.

    Please update us after your conversation, OP!

    1. Lilo*

      Put it this way, if something goes pear shaped with Larissa and a client, and her boss finds out LW knew about this, LW could be fired.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Exactly. I feel like LW needs to CYA at this point. And maybe there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for it.

      2. Fortitude Jones*

        How would the boss find out OP knew if Larisa doesn’t know OP knows about the lie? If OP chooses to keep this to herself and say nothing, if the truth ever did come out, OP would be presumed to have been just as in the dark as everyone else. The only way I could see this biting OP is if the friend tells Larisa that she tatted her out to a friend that works at the same company (OP) and Larisa tells the boss this if things go left and she’s fired.

        1. Kathleen_A*

          The OP’s loyalty should be to the company she works for, IMO – not some coworker who’s only worked there a few months and who may not only have no degree but – more importantly – also may have no experience. That she’s faked it pretty sell so far is interesting, but that’s all it is.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            The OP’s loyalty should be to herself. But this isn’t a question of loyalty – OP isn’t in HR per this letter (if she was, that would be a totally different story). Therefore, this is not an OP problem but a Larisa and company problem.

          2. Myriad Tones*

            I got a job doing basic accounts payable by being a bit free with the truth and excelled at the position and went on do more complicated accounting tasks at other companies, including for an international temp agency. I had no college at all and my accounting experience at that time was just having done fast food/gas station cashier work. Requiring a college degree for a very basic clerical job is harming a lot of people who remain unemployed for years on end because of it.

            1. Kathleen_A*

              I’m sorry – where are you (and others) getting the idea that is is a “very basic clerical job”? “Account coordinator” may mean that, but it may not.

              And besides, Larisa wasn’t “a bit free with the truth.” She made up a degree and 10 years of experience.

              1. Daisy*

                Wow, yeah, it’s a mystery. Maybe because the OP described it as ‘mostly clerical’ and ‘not too difficult to pick up on the job’? Of course that could mean ‘not clerical’ and ‘very complex’. Who knows what words mean, really.

                1. Kathleen_A*

                  Yes, but she also says it’s client outreach and that the company always (until now) has hired people with a degree to do it – and she says “most,” not “all.” And in any case, even if the job is emptying trash bins, she lied – and lied a LOT – to get it, and that’s far more important.

            2. I am me*

              I understand what you’re getting at, but sometimes they’re a difference between what is and what should be. There are a lot of jobs out there that I personally believe shouldn’t require a college degree (though neither I nor you have any idea whether Larisa’s job is one of those), but that doesn’t make it not dishonest to lie about having a degree. Lying about your qualifications is still a problem even when those qualifications are out of whack with what the job actually requires in practice.

              1. Herding Butterflies*

                Exactly This. You do not lie. Small lies / white lies, I get. Fabricating a job history and a degree: NO.

              2. SarahTheEntwife*

                I agree. This could be a great opportunity for the company to reexamine its job requirements — the lying is possibly a dealbreaker, but the fact that Larissa has been doing great at the job might mean that when they repost it, they should consider making the BA a preferred rather than required or removing it altogether.

            3. Working Mom Having It All*

              If they hired someone who claimed to have ten years of experience for an entry level clerical job, this company is very, very bad at hiring (which I guess we already knew). More likely is that this is a job that actually requires a lot of experience.

              Not all admin jobs are entry level jobs.

              1. Specules*

                Since the company is really crap at checking resumes, I’m going to go out on a limb and infer that they are also probably pretty crappy at defining job qualification requirements .

                1. Rw*

                  Ok, so they didn’t confirm her degree, clearly, but plenty of jobs don’t. She could easily have gotten friends to pretend to be referees for her – that wouldn’t be the companies fault.

              2. Micklak*

                Is anyone else wondering why the company requires a college degree for a job that apparently doesn’t need one?

            4. Veronica*

              Yes @Myriad Tones, it sounds like the job doesn’t actually require a degree and the company is one of these who uses degrees as shortcuts instead of doing real screenings.
              Signed, a person with lots of experience, knowledge and competence and no degree

          3. Clever Girl*

            LOL, you should only be as loyal to the company you work for as the company you work for is loyal to you, which almost 100% of the time is zilch. Companies are loyal to the bottom line. They will cut you loose if you’re costing them money or they can save money or make more without you. Some may be more apologetic about it than others, but no one should ever have their loyalty be to the company they work for.

        2. schnauzerfan*

          If this is true, Larisa’s cousin isn’t the only one who knows this. Her ex knows other members of the family know. Larisa’s cousin might know other people at the company or other clients. She doesn’t seem to be planning to keep her mouth shut. She might well gossip about this to others she knows. It doesn’t even have to be malicious. “isn’t it wonderful that Larisa managed to get a good job even though she dropped out” I don’t know how big an area this is, but in my state, my home town and even more so on my campus, people know each other. My nephew is married to the former governors niece. My cousins are neighbors of one of the candidates in the last governors race. Things get around. My coworker grew up with Dick Cheney’s kids. Three can keep a secret and all that. I wouldn’t be at all interested in keeping Larisa’s secret.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            But again, how does this implicate the OP? If Larisa’s loud mouth cousin goes around town telling Larisa’s business and someone reaches out to the company to tell, no one is going to automatically leap to OP absolutely knew this and how dare she not tell us.

            1. Lissa*

              Yeah. I don’t see how this is likely to be a problem for OP at all – why would anyone think they specifically had this information and believed it to be credible?

              1. schnauzerfan*

                When you’ve got someone like Josie bouncing around gossiping about Larisa? Maybe shes got a grudge, maybe she’s just a gossip, but I wouldn’t care to bet my job on the idea that I’m the only soul in the world she’s telling this story to.

            2. schnauzerfan*

              It implicates OP when the sh*t hits the fan and the cousin says “but I told OP all about it back in September!” It implicates her when the rest of the staff is say “well I never!” and OP has to admit that well, yeah, I heard something about that…

              Now it may never come out, but if it does, the OP is in a sticky situation that she could have sidestepped by following AAM’s good advice and raising a red flag. “Boss, I don’t want to make trouble for Larisa, cause I think she’s doing a fine job, but my friend LC told me some things that you may already know…”

              1. LKW*

                How would the cousin come into this at all? Seriously, the cousin found out about it through Facebook. Unless the the company starts investigating like MTV’s “Catfished” and friending Larissa’s cousin out of the blue… I’m not seeing how any of this falls back to the OP.

                1. Colette*

                  Who else does the cousin know at the company? Is the OP willing to be that she never will meet someone at a party/book blurb/exercise class/grocery store for the same company?

                2. TechWorker*

                  Me neither. Worst case, OP says ‘yea, I thought it was odd but I wasn’t involved in the hiring process and I assumed it was already discussed then, so considered it none of my business’. I would be so surprised if the company thought she had a duty to pass on partial information when she’s not in Larissas management line or in HR.

              2. Anon for This*

                There are a lot of assumptions about shit hitting the fan and about the character of this person. I’m kinda on the side of what’s ethical and what isn’t seems to be decided on by a lot of white people in power. If Larisa is doing the job and doing it well, does it really matter? If she’s not and is screwing up, then it is a concern, but I think there’s a lot of gasping and pearl-clutching because someone decided to play against the capitalist version of right and wrong we’re all told to follow.

                1. Colette*

                  When something goes wrong with a client, cash goes missing from the office, or a deal with a supplier falls through, Larisa’s ability to tell the truth might become very relevant. Very few people tell one big lie an never lie again.

                2. One of the Sarahs*

                  I agree asking for a college degree, when the job doesn’t need one, is stupid. But it’s ultimately people with less privilege who are hurt by the Larisas, because if they *don’t* lie, they are doubly f*cked, but if they do, the consequences are doubled.

                  Me, I think OP should tell the company, because they could keep Larisa on if she’s good, but absolutely should reconsider their “degrees only” stance, if she was good at the job without one – especially given the issues of privilege inherent in who can/‘t get past the gatekeeping (financial and otherwise) into academia in US/UK these days.

                3. Dancing Otter*

                  I must be misunderstanding you. Surely you’re not saying that lying is OK if you’re not in a privileged class? What other crimes are OK for the underprivileged?
                  Personally, I think it’s insulting to say that poor people or POC can’t be expected to be honest and ethical.

                4. George*

                  “In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread.”–Anatole France

                5. Avasarala*

                  This is new! I’ve never seen “ethics” as belonging to white people. Does that mean “crime” belongs to non-whites? “It’s not really criminal because minorities have different values”–is that really the stance you want to take here??

                6. The Rules are Made Up*

                  I wholeheartedly agree. I also disagree with “If she told this lie she’ll lie about something else!” It’s not like “Larisa lied about stealing my lunch” Or “Larisa lied about giving those files to a client when she didn’t.” Sorry but a lie to get a job after a woman got divorced and has no other source of income is not the same thing. There is nothing that indicates that she’s going to lie about something else or that she’s doing anything wrong currently. She needed a job, she got one, she’s doing it well. Leave it alone. Idk what part of ethics consists of getting a divorced woman fired because of some fabricated “loyalty” to an employer that would fire you in a heartbeat if they felt like it.

                  And your point about people being mad that she decided to play against the capitalist ideas of right and wrong is absolutely correct and clear in the OP’s own words about how she is frustrated because she has loans from getting a degree. With all due respect that isn’t Larisa’s problem and you should be upset at the fact that jobs are requiring thousands of dollars in debt for entry level jobs that don’t need it.

                7. Disconnected*

                  Honestly it all depends on whether or not this role requires that degree or not. I have a job that 99% of it my degree doesn’t come into play at all, it’s very clerical. That 1% it actually matters that I’m trained to handle things correctly.

                  It also depends on what career progression tracks they have and whether it’s expected for her to progress into areas where that degree would matter and that was part of the conversation had in the interview and was taken into account as part of the hiring process. Seemingly useless degree requirements at entry level can have a purpose in certain office cultures where growth is encouraged but that growth has prerequisites.

                  So in the event she’s lying because we don’t know for sure what was going on behind closed doors and all that. Consider all the people who applied for the same job as Larisa, who busted their butts getting that experience that she lied about. She completely negated all of their hard work with a lie. Well multiple lies really, earning the degree, the whole work history thing complete with accomplishments and timelines particularly if it spanned multiple jobs. Is it ethical for them to not get the job because she lied?

                8. Tranya*

                  “someone decided to play against the capitalist version of right and wrong we’re all told to follow.”

                  Nice try at grinding the ‘ol ideological axe when it’s 100% irrelevant. Do you really think that it was acceptable in socialist command economies to lie on your CV? The Soviets had an official document called “trudovaya kinizhka,” or “labor history book,” that detailed every position you’d ever held. I’m sure a black market existed in false books. Do you really think that it is acceptable in social-democratic (but still capitalist, BTW) places in Northern Europe to lie on your CV?

                  To be clear, I’m not taking a position on whether it was unethical for Larisa to lie if it was truly a case of “lie to get this job” versus “not being able to feed my kids.” Immediately after WWII, things were so bad that the archbishop of Cologne declared that stealing food was not a sin. But this absolutely not a question of “socialism versus capitalism.”

            3. Engineer Girl*

              “Loud mouth cousin” really, not trying to put a spin on this are you?

              Let the company decide if this is important.

              1. Fortitude Jones*

                Lol, I don’t care one way or the other about how this turns out – I’m not OP, Larisa, Josie, or this company. But Josie is a damn gossip – I said what I said.

                1. Engineer Girl*

                  Gossip depends on motivation. It’s possible that Josie is concerned that OP will be impacted by Larissa’s deceit. In that case it is not gossip.

                2. Darsynia*

                  Or maybe Josie is upset that they have good work history and paid for an education and her lying cousin skated through just saying she had those things? OP is right to be frustrated that they did the work and is sharing their workspace with someone who didn’t. It isn’t fair.

        3. lol*

          For some reason, I read the first sentence and my first thought was you’ve really outlined the opportunity the OP has for blackmail here. (Just to be clear I’m not recommending blackmail as a course of action, but the thought made me laugh!)

      3. EPLawyer*

        We say that a lot here. I don’t think this is one of those situations. She heard it from someone who says she’s Larissa’s cousin. Who sent alleged screenshots. Why would the cousin even care that her deadbeat cousin finally got a job? There’s enough doubt here that if it wasn’t raised I wouldn’t question the person who knew about it.

        Is it worth flagging to the boss. Yes. I would want to know. But I wouldn’t fire if someone didn’t raise it.

        1. MatKnifeNinja*

          I’ve seen both fired.

          The person who did the sketchy thing, and the whistle blower.

          If the company half assed it on hiring Larissa, I’m guessing they are half passing it on other stuff too. Just like everyone considers Larissa a liar, well you can make the statement HR s garbage and who knows what other sketchy hires they have.

          HR may not get hammer because they are the higher ups niece, friend of the family, or maybe since everything is running fine (money being made), why up end everything?

          Larissa gets the boot because “we have to do SOMETHING”.

          OP gets tossed, “The honesty bone is strong with this one, and we don’t want other “minor stuff” getting unearthed.

          In this job market, those two are a dime a dozen. Not everyone appreciates absolute honesty.

    2. Candy*

      || If I was a supervisor, I would want to know this information. ||

      If her supervisor wanted to know this information, there’s ways to find it out (by vetting potential hires properly, for example, by checking their references, etc).

      OP certainly can speak up if she wants to, but I don’t at all think it’s her responsibility to do so

      1. JustAClarifier*

        This assumes that it was the supervisor who was the one who was able to vet the hires. Sometimes it’s out of their hands because it’s all handled by HR or someone higher up. That’s certainly the case in my company.

        1. Oh No She Di'int*

          OP’s company has fewer than 10 people. There is no HR. “HR” is the one gal or guy who owns the place, and I would bet my meagre fortune on the fact that she had to make this hire in between finding a new cleaning company, responding to a customer complaint, figuring out a loan payment, proofreading a new brochure, and fixing the coffee maker. It is not surprising that in a micro-business of this size, little due diligence happened.

  2. Parenthetically*

    Situations like this SUCK, man. Demanding college degrees in jobs that are mainly clerical and client service and transparently do not require skills you’d have to learn in a classroom is exactly what drives people to do stuff like this. Not saying she did the right thing but I sure understand why she did it. It always blows my mind when some wildly successful CEO is caught having fabricated key components of his resume and, instead of the company going, “Hey, you know what? Maybe we need to rethink our requirements and expectations so we’re not weeding out people like Boss Man in the early stages,” they just can his ass and hire a PI to make sure the next guy really DID go to Utrecht University.

    It sucks that the “right thing” to do in this scenario is almost certainly going to get a competent coworker fired from a job she is actually capable of doing. Ugh.

    1. Jennifer*

      +1000
      It seems the reaction would be – ‘wow, maybe we put too much importance on having a degree.’ Instead of ‘how dare you! Let’s hire Joe Schmo! He went to Harvard!’

      1. Kiki*

        Yes! There are definitely fields where having some sort of formal, certifiable education is a necessity, but degree requirements have expanded beyond sense. I forget where I read this, but it was a post-recession phenomenon. Because there were so many unemployed people with degrees, companies either figured they might as well snatch up as many educated workers as they could or just needed some arbitrary requirement to refine the pool of applicants by.
        I don’t condone lying on your resume, but when college is as expensive as it is and so many jobs have it as an artificial barrier to entry, that’s what happens.

        1. Kathleen_A*

          But she also has essentially no experience! Maybe it doesn’t require a degree, but doesn’t the company get to choose if they want to hire someone no experience?

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            That’s where not checking any references is the head scratcher.

            Though… apparently she is doing the job without any prior experience.

            1. Anonymeece*

              To be honest, if she went to this much trouble, I wonder if she fabricated her references. Got friends to say she worked there, etc. It doesn’t seem more of a stretch than creating a job history and degree out of whole cloth.

                1. Warm Weighty Wrists*

                  Well that sounds like something I am definitely not going to google on a work computer, so could you please elaborate? I don’t know what Vandelay Enterprises is. (If this is too much of a derail, please disregard.)

          2. lilsheba*

            And what about people like her, her depended on her husband’s income (like the good old days) and then is stuck with no experience after a divorce? Someone has to take a chance on her! Obviously the lack of degree and experience has made NO DIFFERENCE in job performance.

            1. Kathleen_A*

              Oh, for goodness’ sake – she’s only worked there five months. That may be conclusive, but then again, it may not, and we have no way of knowing since we don’t actually know anything about the business the OP works for aside from the fact that it’s small.

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              What about the person who really needed a job and perhaps was in a more desperate situation than Larisa but got passed over in favor of someone who (maybe) fabricated a entire resume? Why does Larisa trump them?

              1. One of the Sarahs*

                Exactly this – and the Larisa’s who *didn’t* lie, as they knew that being (a WoC, queer etc) meant if they were caught, the consequences would be bigger – or just felt that ethically, they would never do this, even though they were more than capable of foing the job.

              2. workerbee*

                I don’t believe employees are hired based on their desperation levels, and even if that were a factor I would say 7 years of being unable to secure employment is pretty desperate

                1. MizShrew*

                  I gathered that her job search was more recent — unemployed for 7 years, yes, but married and supported by her spouse for much of that time, according to the letter: “She’d been married for most of that time and supported by her husband’s income, but began job searching after they divorced earlier this year.”

                  That doesn’t mean she wasn’t desperate, it just means she wasn’t looking for work for the last 7 years.

              3. Cathie Fonz*

                Yes, it is honesty that is the issue here, not competence.
                The college I worked for once hired a woman without a degree to supervise the college office — prior to this, that supervisor had always had a degree. But in this case the college KNEW that the new supervisor did not have a degree, and that she was qualified for the position due to her years of relevant experience plus outstanding recommendations from previous college employers.

              4. George*

                Because it is not a zero sum game, there isn’t only one job in the world for a hypothetical person with qualifications. But there is only one job in the world for Larissa in which she has already proven herself with 5 months of experience, despite not having qualifications. She’s not going to get another one.

              5. FCJ*

                I’m surprised to see you advocate hiring based on levels of desperation. Not defending Larisa–she’s clearly not the right person for the job if her integrity is this suspect. But there’s no guarantee that the job would have gone to the most desperate candidate. Job hunting isn’t “fair” like that. In fact, OP’s comment about the company not hiring someone with a 7-year gap (apparently just on principle) makes it pretty clear that the most desperate person in the lineup would probably be overlooked.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Of course I’m not advocating hiring based on who’s most desperate! I’m questioning why people with so much concern for Larisa aren’t concerned about the people who lost out on the job because she faked a resume.

            3. pamela voorhees*

              This is going to sound really mean and I don’t mean it that way or agree with the way things are, but the way that at least the US economy is currently set up, no, no one has to take a chance on her. I’m not arguing that this isn’t fair, because of course it’s not fair, but what I will argue is that it’s not a company’s responsibility to hire someone just because they really need it — what about a person who DOES have the qualifications and needs the job equally badly?

              1. Fortitude Jones*

                Right. Companies are under no obligation to hire and retain employees because the employee needs it.

              2. Jen S. 2.0*

                I don’t think it’s mean at all; it’s very honest. A company doesn’t HAVE to hire someone just because they need a job, and an interviewee isn’t more entitled to the job because they think they are the neediest, most desperate applicant.

                50 other people really need that job, too, and it’s not an employer’s place to get into parsing someone’s debt vs student loan payments vs mortgage vs divorce vs number of kids vs empty pantry.

                1. Seifer*

                  I’ve always hated that, when I worked as a hostess, one of the servers would always demand that I give more tables to her because “I’m a single mom and if I don’t make money, my kids don’t eat.” Okay…. should I start weighing all that when I choose how to seat you guys? Sure, you’ve got kids, but Mike’s got heart surgery coming up, and Jill’s kids are in college now, and Steph has loads of student loan debt and she’s out of money for food, and Fergus’s wife just shattered her femur and can’t work for a while, and Kelly just bought a house, and… like. No. Nothing would ever get done and how the hell am I supposed to know what’s the truth here. The most desperate is not entitled to all the tables, the job, whatever.

              3. Jennifer*

                I don’t think anyone was obligated to hire her either. But they did. So I think the OP should leave it alone and let the chips fall where they may.

            4. lemon*

              Taking a chance on someone involves a certain amount of trust. You know what they say… trust is earned. Similarly, I think one has to earn/demonstrate/show that they’re worth taking a chance on. You don’t do that by fabricating 10 years of experience and college degree.

              There are other ways to get people to take a chance on you, that usually involve getting experience in other ways– volunteering, side/passion projects, online classes/certifications, etc. I know it’s hard and it can feel unfair when you’re in that situation and you’re desperate (I know– I’ve been there)– but just making stuff up crosses the line.

              1. TechWorker*

                Tbh does OP know for certain that Larissa *wasnt* volunteering and the experience in her bio is referencing that? Her cousin clearly doesn’t like her so may not be putting the most positive spin on it, and if you were volunteering you might still reasonably complain about how hard it is to get a paid job without a degree.

                1. Detective Amy Santiago*

                  I wouldn’t say that the cousin “clearly doesn’t like her”. I have cousins that I like very well as people, but if one of my friends hired them for a job that had a requirement I knew they didn’t have, I would warn my friend too.

                2. lemon*

                  That’s true—we don’t know whether or not Larissa was lying. I was mostly responding to lilsheba’s argument that if she *did* lie, it could be justified by how hard it is to get someone to take a chance on someone with no experience.

          3. Percysowner*

            This is the big thing. I mean lying about your education isn’t GOOD, but as you say some places are requiring college degrees when the job doesn’t necessarily merit that level of education, but experience is important. It shows you know what to expect from holding a job for one thing. Plus lying about both requirements does bring up a question about her ethics.

            1. Oh No She Di'int*

              Right. But I mean, don’t we all agree that an undergraduate degree is often (not always, but often) just shorthand? I mean no one actually thinks you’re going to get hired and be quizzed on themes of racial injustice in Huckleberry Finn or be asked to name the three types of DNA. Having a college degree is just a way of saying, “I take education and learning and discipline seriously. Seriously enough to have spent 2 to 4 years of my life getting really good at it.” Unless it’s a specific technical or professional degree, that’s what most degrees are about, right?

              1. Working Mom Having It All*

                That, and also “I can be relied on to use written communication to a certain standard. I know how to meet a deadline. I’m familiar with the idea of performing to an accepted standard and then being evaluated on my performance by an authority figure. I can at least pass for someone who has critical thinking, reading, research, and analytical skills. I understand that I have to come here every day and complete tasks set before me, and that I can’t call a friend to sub for me or leave work undone simply because it’s quitting time.” And lots of other basic professional standards that a college degree at least hints towards.

                Obviously you can have all of those skills without having attained a four year degree. And there are some jobs that don’t require any of that which claim to require a degree. Which is why there should be some flexibility where this is concerned.

                But most college degrees teach you much more about the white collar working world than just a subject area.

                1. Anna*

                  I have a MA and the more I work with young adults without any degrees (as in, they are my clients, not coworkers), the more I feel like four year degrees are a great scam perpetuated on young people to make someone money. That isn’t to say nobody should go to college, but it is to say maybe they should be coming out of high school with a few more of those skills.

                2. Cathy Gale*

                  Certainly, but the scamming is not by schools, which are filled with people who care about teaching, research or both. Actually it’s a way for companies to forego training and frontload it onto applicants. Read Peter Capelli’s work or listen to an interview with him.

                3. Veronica*

                  The colleges are just as greedy as any other institution or entity. They’re the ones scamming students for money – not the individual teachers or advisors, the institution itself. Probably coming from the top, but I haven’t gotten that far in researching this.

                4. Veronica*

                  Also, haven’t we all known people with degrees who don’t have any of these basic skills? Using a degree for employment screening does not work!

                5. Windchime*

                  Yeah. I do have all these skills and no degree. Every job that I have been hired for in the past 15 years wants at least a bachelors, but I ignore that and apply anyway. I don’t lie on my resume and I don’t have trouble getting hired.
                  Having said that, I feel for Larissa. Clearly she is able to do the job, nobody has any complaints about her performance. If it were me, I would just dismiss the complaints as gossip. I would not want to get a perfectly good employee fired on a technicality.

          4. Fortitude Jones*

            Maybe it doesn’t require a degree, but doesn’t the company get to choose if they want to hire someone no experience?

            Yes, they do. That’s why they should have done a comprehensive background check. They didn’t – that’s on them and Larisa.

            1. Parenthetically*

              Exactly what I was going to say. It’s pretty easy to avoid this if you just confirm graduation dates with her university and call her previous employers, unless Larissa is some kind of mastermind who set up a bunch of fake references including one for a university.

              Also, TBH, we don’t actually know first-hand that they DIDN’T hire her knowing her background. We only know what OP told us that Josie told her.

              1. Working Mom Having It All*

                TBH my guess is that she got the job through a mix of connections and a small amount of loosely related experience. Like maybe she has a 7 year gap on her resume, but she’s done informal work that is connected to this position or the company’s mission, and her previous position before leaving the workforce was indeed doing this type of thing.

                I’ve definitely seen people transitioning from stay at home parenting back into office jobs at least try to parlay volunteering, casual work helping a family member’s business, and the like into a resume to somewhat cover the gap and explain the nature of their skillset. It would be a stretch to call this “a ten year career in [our industry]” but, IDK, there’s at least some wiggle room between Josie being a conniving b-word and Larissa fabricating an entire career out of whole cloth.

            1. Working Mom Having It All*

              What if there was another applicant who actually had the qualifications, but because Larisa lied to make herself look better, that person didn’t get the job? By lying, Larisa stole a job from a more qualified applicant and also prevented the company from hiring someone actually qualified.

              1. Autumnheart*

                She didn’t STEAL a job. A job cannot be stolen, it can only be filled. The company chose who they hired.

            2. Colette*

              We don’t know she’s actually doing it well – some types of failures take more than 5 months to uncover.

              1. Harper the Other One*

                Yep. Closing of a fiscal year jumps to mind if she’s doing any accounting work, and depending on what they provide to clients, delivery of products/services can take more than five months.

        2. Wintermute*

          I blame high schools. A high school diploma is a covenant between society and the education system that when someone gets out they are literate, numerate, and have a certain basic level of knowledge about the society in which we live.

          Standards have dropped so far that it’s no longer the case so a bachelor’s degree stands now for what a highschool diploma used to: this person can read, write, communicate on a basic level intelligibly, and can be trusted to learn basic job skills.

        3. no degree*

          I do not have a degree and have found a job that I love. Let’s not pretend that not having a degree is a death sentence. I have to wonder how you can go seven years of a job search without nibbles as well. It is tougher to get a job without a degree but it can be done.

          I also have a part time job where one of my co-workers is homeless, a high school drop out, and has stated that he sometimes sleeps under a bridge is one of the better workers we have. Sometimes these jobs aren’t the high paid glamorous jobs in life but they do hire anyone and there is a path for advancement.

          1. Anna*

            The OP didn’t say she had been job searching for seven years; she said Larisa didn’t have to work for seven years because her husband’s income was sufficient enough for Larisa to stay home. Then Larisa divorced and looked for awhile without finding anything.

        4. Veronica*

          I first noticed it before the recession, around 2004-2005. When I was working as a secretary with no degree. All of a sudden jobs I was qualified for required degrees.
          It was a combination of employers being too lazy/cheap to do real screenings, and assuming (wrongly) that people with degrees are always competent.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Yeah, I’m late to the party, but the part of the OP that says “I’m personally really frustrated at this, since I took out loans and studied hard to get my degree only to wind up with a coworker who claimed to do the same without any of the work.”. So, if my degree (not from the US) was tuition-free, do I deserve my job less than someone who took the loans out? If I worked my butt off to make sure that my children both graduated without student loan debt (and they went to cheaper schools and had scholarships for all/part of the time they were in school), does the same apply to them? Is this what we’ve become – a place where we question our colleagues, not on the quality of their work, but whether they have paid enough to be employed at the same place we are? This makes me feel very disappointed in, oh I don’t know, humanity.

        1. Michelle*

          I agree, I Wrote This in the Bathroom. She mostly seems upset about that, instead of the fact that whoever hired this woman apparently did not check to see if she had that degree or any kind of background check at all. This is squarely on who hired her.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Yup, my other thought was that they needed to terminate the contract with whomever they have doing their background checks.

    2. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      I was coming here to say this.

      I saw a warehouse associate job that required a degree. This was for stacking boxes!

      When employers have ridiculous standards for jobs that aren’t required to complete the job duties, it leads to people taking desperate measures. Because they are desperate!

      Nothing boils my blood more than jobs that are marked as entry level but require experience. Degree requirements for jobs that don’t require specialized knowledge are the same.

      1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

        For these reasons, I would not say anything to my boss unless it became clear there were issues with her performance. I don’t think lying on her resume, when she needed a job and couldn’t find one, means she’ll lie about other things. It could mean that, but I don’t think it is a guarantee. I think very likely it was done out of desperation. And I would feel awful if a good employee who wasn’t causing issues lost her job because I said something.

        1. CL*

          It’s not so much the degree though, she created at least seven years of work history out of whole cloth. That’s the part I’d find troubling as a supervisor, because I’d be relying on that sustained work history to demonstrate, at the very least, that she’s somewhat reliable and competent. And if it was on HR to do the due diligence (and when there’s an HR, it is usually on them to check everything out, not the supervisor of the new employee), I’d want to know if they didn’t do anything at all. Because who knows who else might have been hired without being vetted, it might be for a position that’s in direct contact with confidential and/or financial information.

            1. Jennifer*

              We only have the cousin’s word that she falsified that. And some screenshots that can be easily faked. I didn’t see anything in the letter that reflected evidence the OP themselves had found. Everything came from the cousin who seems REALLY invested in getting Larisa fired. The OP said they couldn’t find evidence that Larisa had worked anywhere during the past seven years, but how could they verify that without her resume?

              1. RUKiddingMe*

                Oooh I just made a post about the cousin maybe having an agenda. She may be using OP to get back at Coworker fir dine family thing.

              2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Right, that’s why I said “if that did happen.” But what she’s seen is concerning enough that she should flag it for the manager. If it’s not false, the manager will see that.

            2. Felix*

              How is that really any more egregious? Actually? For something that sounds like an entry level job that she is doing just fine, it’s not like she’s lying about being able to do surgery.
              And before go OP goes about ruining the life of someone who had a such hard time finding a job, she should asked herself why she is doing it. It’s pretty clear OP is being spiteful. She resents the person working her company.
              For all we know OP got our of an abusive marriage and this is the lifeline that will stop her from going back. There is too much OP doesn’t know.
              Why do something this reckless and mean-spirited. WTF happened to empathy?!

              1. Scion*

                Making up 10 years of work history and claiming a degree with only 1/8th of the requirements is significantly more egregious than the typical “lying on your resume” stuff we hear about. That’s usually inflating your GPA by a few tenths of a point, or something like that. Those are usually exaggerations, not making something up completely.

                While I bet a lot of people have been somewhat tempted to up their GPA a little (although I would assume most don’t actually do it), I don’t think it’d even occur to many people to just make up (probably multiple) jobs over the course of a decade if they’ve actually been unemployed the whole time.

                That level of lie is just so brazen, so far beyond the norm, how could you ever trust that person?

                1. commensally*

                  I don’t know if it’s obvious that she did make it up from whole cloth. Experience is actually one of the things that I’ve seen people be actively encouraged to “fudge”. People are told to cover a resume gap with things like volunteer work and helping out with hobby businesses, etc, with the descriptions skewed to match the requested experience as much as possible without outright lying.

                  And if she was a stay-at-home spouse she may in fact have had a fair amount of that kind of marginal experience to put in the gap – it’s really up to the employer to check that “Teapots On The Go LLC”, for which she did all kinds of accounting and client services, is a major business in their field and not somebody who goes to craft shows every other weekend and has an Etsy and pays workers in baked goods. (She may have also had experience that predated the gap.)

                  Without seeing the resume, she could simultaneously be known to her cousins as “unemployed” (especially if, say, her mom or ex is prone to complaining about deadbeats) and be posting on social media about job-hunting with a resume gap, while also having ten years-ish of not-full-time-paid experience truly related to the field. Honestly, I’d worry about the outright lie on the degree more.

              2. Red Wheelbarrow*

                I’m puzzled that someone would say “It’s pretty clear that OP is being spiteful.” The OP is struggling with whether it’s appropriate to report this or not, giving reasons both for reporting it and for leaving it alone. She says, “I’m inclined to just leave it and not deal with any of this.” I don’t see spite here; I see a struggle to do the right thing in the face of a moral dilemma.

                1. TootsNYC*

                  Maybe they’re thinking of the OP’s frustration at having gone through the difficulties of getting her degree, only to see someone who faked it, succeed, and the feeling that her degree doesn’t matter.

                  But I can’t blame the OP for that feeling, she isn’t jumping whole hog into it either.

                2. Myrin*

                  Yeah, there aren’t many but still several comments along those lines and I don’t comprehend them at all – if anything, OP seems pretty balanced and thoughtful around a difficult situation.

                3. Jennifer*

                  @TootsNYC It sounds like the OP is an attorney. Larisa is doing a clerical job. They are on vastly different career tracks. What does the OP’s degree have to do with this?

                4. Fortitude Jones*

                  Yeah, OP sounds more apprehensive than spiteful. The cousin/OP’s friend is the one who sounds spiteful.

                5. Mockingjay*

                  In one job years ago someone accused a young engineer of not possessing a degree. The guy was a new hire out of college and fumbling as many people in first jobs do, which, in the eyes of his “Rockstar” coworker who reported on him, meant of course new hire had lied. So the boss had to verify his degree. It was legit. The new guy just needed some time and mentoring to find his feet in the workplace.

                  The issue I have is that the OP has no signs that Larissa can’t do the job or isn’t qualified – only hearsay from someone outside the company whose motives for telling on Larissa are suspect. Why didn’t she simply talk to Larissa’s manager at the outset, rather than trying to verify Larissa’s credentials herself? Or, she could have told Josie, “Larissa’s credentials are her and her manager’s business. I don’t care to hear about it.”

              3. A*

                OP wouldn’t be “ruining” Larisa’s life. Larisa chose to lie, not OP – I highly doubt it would come to life ruining, but if so it would be Larisa ruining her own life. I definitely don’t agree with putting the weight of the situation on OP’s shoulders. They need to do whatever they need to do in order to feel comfortable – this is not their responsibility.

              4. EPLawyer*

                Sorry lying is lying. This is not “oh you’re haircut looks great” or “no those pants don’t make you look fat.” This is flat out lying. Yes I would question the integrity of someone who lied about having a college degree even if one was not required for a job or made up a whole work history. Because they saw something they wanted and they lied to get it. What else will they lie about?

                It’s not like this is the only job in the world. Sure lots of jobs require degrees that shouldn’t. Change the system then. Work a network to convince someone to hire you without the degree. You don’t lie.

                There are jobs that don’t require degrees. But she didn’t want THOSE. You can work at a grocery store without a degree. But she wanted a certain lifestyle that a white collar job allows to some extent. So she lied. Instead of working retail and getting experience that could be used to show she doesn’t need a degree.

                She lied because it was easier than putting in the work. How many people don’t lie on their resumes and are still searching for work after a year? She whined after a few months and decided to cheat the system.

                1. Seifer*

                  YES! THIS! It’s not a zero sum game, there are more jobs. I only JUST got a college degree, but I busted my ass for years at restaurants and nail salons and factories while living on my own before I managed a low paying office job that let me work my way to the job I have today.

                  Like, I got divorced too. I had to pay off tens of thousands of debt that my ex left me with. But I did not lie on my resume. When I got desperate, I called a friend and asked if I could be his intern because I knew his company paid their interns more than what I was making at the time for chrissake. This woman lied, okay, she ruined it for herself.

                2. Wintermute*

                  Seifer– actually this is the very essence of a zero-sum game. There are a finite number of jobs and a finite (but greater than the number of jobs) number of job-seekers. If Bob doesn’t get a job then someone else can get the job Bob applied to.

                  So yeah, it’s basically the definition of a zero-sum game, there is no one who has a job that has not taken a job opportunity away from someone else.

              5. Name Required*

                Nothing happened to empathy. You’re making up a story about Larisa in your head (that her life would ruined by being outed, that she potentially came from an abusive marriage) and asking why other people aren’t making up the same story in their heads and having the same emotional reaction to that story.

                Other people could make up contrary stories in their heads (that Larisa is a pathological liar who fabricated her background, and she put the company in jeopardy in the future through her poor judgement), and have a different emotional reaction.

                We could also ask WTF happened to telling the truth and professional integrity.

              6. Detective Amy Santiago*

                This is some serious advice column fanfic.

                We know one actual fact:
                Josie claims that Larisa is lying about her experience.

                LW has an obligation to bring that information to her employer’s attention. It doesn’t matter why Larisa lied, it doesn’t matter why Josie told the LW, and it doesn’t matter if the job genuinely requires a degree or not. Bottom line is that they may have hired someone based on inaccurate information and the company has a right to decide how to proceed.

                1. Mockingjay*

                  What about presumption of innocence?

                  Josie goes to the trouble of figuring out where her cousin is working, contacts the OP who works at the same place, carries a photo of Larissa for quick identification, AND just happens to have screenshots of six months old Facebook posts.

                  Awfully convenient evidence. I don’t think Josie is acting out of the goodness of her heart. Then OP decides to do some sleuthing as well. Doesn’t really find anything one way or another. But there must be something, right?

                  This is a lot of supposition (no degree, made-up experience) based on one person’s gossip (a non-employee at that) about a family member. As an employer, I would be obliged to look into it. But I’d raise an eyebrow about the OP’s private investigation. That’s for Larissa’s manager to handle.

                2. Avasarala*

                  OP doesn’t need to presume anything. OP can say, as Alison recommended, hey, someone approached me with evidence that Larissa faked her resume. And let the manager decide whether it’s credible based on how much THEY checked her background, etc.

              7. fhqwhgads*

                Ten lies is more egregious than one lie, I think. And again, the end goal here isn’t “ruin someone’s life”. The end goal is “flag a staff member with possibly a major lack of ethics”. This is not “they say they want 5 years experience and I have 4 but I fudged it to 5 to avoid get autobumped by an ATS”. This is “I was at X company for Y years, and A company for B years and I’ve done Q, R and S” when none of those things are true. The problem is not about the hiring criteria being pickier than necessary. It’s about not being able to trust someone at all.

                1. LKW*

                  I think that depends on the lie though. Lying to ten people that you were an Assistant Manager versus Assistant to the Manager is less worrisome than lying about your conviction for embezzlement.

              8. Tequila Mockingbird*

                I just knew this thread was going to contain a bunch of “let sleeping dogs lie” comments, but this one takes the cake.

                “It’s pretty clear OP is being spiteful. She resents the person working her company.” Please, Felix, let us in on all the inside info you possess! This is some pretty magical intel!

              9. Katherine*

                “had such a hard time finding a job.”

                It’s September 2019. Larisa’s been there five months. She got divorced, in OP’s words “this year” and started looking for a job then. Oh, the hardship.

              10. boop the first*

                Okay but here’s the thing: OP may be the most recent person with the information, but OP doesn’t REALLY have a choice. Obligations happen whether you’re ready for them or not. Larisa didn’t have to shoot for an unattainable job right away. Josie didn’t have to search out a contact at the company to expose her. But OP has no choice but to pass it on if they don’t want to be complicit in any possible future disasters caused by dishonesty. OP absolutely has empathy: empathy for themself, the company, their coworkers, their clients….

              11. Lily in NYC*

                I have more empathy for the people who applied to that job and didn’t get it because of OP’s fake resume.

            3. Laurelma*

              I would want to know.

              I got pulled into the Dean’s office to cover for one of their admins that quit without warning. She supposedly had experience. Well I found piles of documents that were hidden in different places in the filing cabinets. She just picked stacks of stuff and filed it out of sight, looked like she was working. Took me two weeks to clean up that mess.

              She didn’t quit over performance issues, she quit over man issues. She dressed very professionally, was pleasant, gave the appearance of doing her job. It was only found out because she left. She had been there about 5 months, hate to have seen what the filing system looked like after 1 year or two if this hadn’t been caught.

              Some of these admin / clerical jobs it’s assumed that you are getting the work done. It’s not checked. Too many times I’ve walked into jobs and ended up cleaning up a mess left by someone else. And in some instances management had no idea. And usually it shows up in the files, where it’s hidden.

              1. lemon*

                I think you bring up a good point.

                Aside from the ethics issue of this, if Larisa doesn’t actually have the experience she claims to have, this could end up negatively affecting her manager/team. Sure, it seems like she’s handling things ok now, but it’s only been 5 months. In a lot of places I’ve worked, 5 months isn’t enough time to have been given any serious responsibility. How is Larisa going to be able to handle things once the training wheels come off and she’s given more autonomy?

                I worked with a teammate who seemed excellent for the first 6 months we worked together. But when they were given more responsibility, they started needing more help on their work, and started relying on me for help. Then they were given a large, critical assignment, needed my help all the time, until they cracked under the pressure, and ended up quitting in the middle of the project, leaving me to clean up the mess.

                A couple of months before they quit, they told me that they were job searching, and half-joked about lying on their resume to claim that they had a senior title and said they’d use me as a reference to verify it. I gently told them that I didn’t feel comfortable doing that. Another time, they made comments about how the references they’d used to get this job were similarly fudged– they did work for that person, but they asked them to lie about the actual responsibilities they had.

                After they quit, I found myself pretty angry at them for fudging their way into a position they couldn’t handle.

                I can only imagine what could happen in a case where someone is not just fudging but actually lying about 7-10 years of experience.

              2. Working Mom Having It All*

                Agreed. For a lot of people “thriving at the job” means doesn’t bother anyone asking questions. Stuff hits their desk and goes away and the team that admin is supporting never has to hear about it again. So as far as they’re concerned, the job is being done. Because “the job”, to them, is the noise.

              3. Seeking Second Childhood*

                I’m trying to remember details of that letter in this forum from someone who burned papers rather than admit the workload had gotten too much for them…

                1. londonedit*

                  It was originally a comment on a ‘what’s the worst thing you’ve done at work’ sort of topic. The person had been put in charge of organising the transfer of some sort of timeshare following a charity auction, but they just couldn’t fathom the legal paperwork, were totally out of their depth, and instead of admitting that they’d screwed the whole thing up and couldn’t do it, they just took all the paperwork to some remote field and burned it. And then said ‘Oh, I don’t know what happened, I submitted all the paperwork but for some reason it hasn’t gone through, I’m so sorry’. And it turned out the person who’d donated the timeshares was happy, because they were regretting doing it, and the people who’d bought them at the auction didn’t care either and said never mind, just keep the money!

          1. 8DaysAWeek*

            Agree and does that mean they didn’t call any references or did she have friends to pretend they were references at companies she never worked at?!

            1. Percysowner*

              I became director of a small (5 employees, counting me, so I was HR) non-profit. They had recently hired a new bookkeeper. I was having all sorts of problems with her, bullying another employee, trying to tell me how to run the business, etc. I finally asked the Assistant Director what her references had said. She said she had worked for 10 years at a firm until the man retired. She didn’t want us to contact here current employer, of course. She had been there for 10 years and wanted to move on. She had a couple of personal references on clients she had done tax work for. When they tried to reach the first employer they couldn’t and when we asked for updated contact information, they were told he had died a few years after retiring.

              Finally, I called her most recent employer to see if I could get more of a handle on her. It turned out that he WASN’T her most recent employer, he had fired her for the exact same behavior that she was exhibiting for us. Fortunately, our employment application stated that lying on it was grounds for immediate termination, so I had no problem getting rid of her.

              I guess what I’m saying is that there are ways to fool HR or a reference checker. The “I’ve been at this company for 10 years, ever since I graduated college, let me give you people who I did volunteer work with” can fly in under the radar, especially in a small organization.

          1. Pomona Sprout*

            Oops, it looks like CL and I were posting at about the same time. I was agreeing with I GOTS TO KNOW! when I posted, but reading CL’s comment, I can see the points they are making, too, especially about the implications that HR might not be doing their job properly. I am no longer sure what I think, because I can see it from both sides! Bottom line, I think the idea of causing someone who is performing their job satisfactorily to get fired is so disturbing to me that I can’t think about this objectively.

        2. Observer*

          Oh please. One of my first thoughts when I read this letter is that it’s pretty clear that the employer has inflated their requirements.

          That still doesn’t excuse making up a whole background. This person is going to lie whenever things get sticky – and it will always be “but, desperation.”

          This is a position where you have to be able to have some measure of trust, and this person CANNOT be trusted!

          1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

            You have no evidence they are going to lie again. You are making an assumption based on 1 piece of information. That hasn’t been irrefutably confirmed.

            Lying of course shouldn’t be done. I am not endorsing fabricating your entire resume. I am not even endorsing embellishing your resume.

            I am saying, were I in the OP’s position, these are the things I would think about and it would give me pause in being a snitch.

            If a friend told me they were going to fabricate a resume, I would caution them against it. I wouldn’t agree to be a fake reference for someone. I wouldn’t help someone create a fake background to get a job. BUT I would absolutely understand why they thought they had to!

            I think what Larisa did was wrong. I also think it is understandable, given the state of hiring in the US. If I were the OP, I would be doing a LOT more research and trying to slyly get info out of HR about what they know and Larisa’s supervisor about her actual job performance before I straight out snitched.

            1. A*

              Just playing devils advocate here – but with exception of when your dealing with a diagnosed pathological liar… in what scenarios would you actually have evidence that someone is going to lie again?

              1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

                You don’t. Which is why I think you have to look at the circumstances surrounding it in making a decision.

                Lying is bad. We shouldn’t do it. But we do it when we are scared, or desperate. Sometimes we do it to be kind. Sometimes we do it to be mean. Some people just lie all the time about dumb sh*t for no reason. There are consequences when you are caught out.

                Is this a big lie? Yes. Should she have done it? No. Do I think others should do this? Of course not. Do I think this is irrefutable evidence that she’ll lie about more things? No, I don’t. I think the possibility is there, and it might make me wary in dealings I have with her until she proves herself more. Does that mean I have to tell someone about it? I am unsure. It would sit heavy with me and I would need to really have my ducks in a row to do it. That is the point I am trying to make.

                1. Observer*

                  You don’t need irrefutable evidence. If we needed that to make employment moves, we would have to take all sorts of ridiculous risks, because irrefutable proof is VERY hard to come by. Ask anyone whose employer refused to fire someone who they should have know would be trouble because “we don’t have irrefutable proof” what it’s like to be the victim of that trouble. (like harassment.)

            2. EPLawyer*

              I would not be slyly trying to get info out of HR. First of all, HR won’t say anything. Second of all, I would look bad trying to find this stuff out. Suspicion of lying is not grounds to go all Mission Impossible to find out the truth.

              You raise it with your boss just like Alison said. Using her words so it’s not this person is definintely lying. It’s hey this what I found out, I was concerned so I am bringing it to you. Then its on the boss WHO HAS THE AUTHORITY TO DO SO to follow up or not. it is most definitely not the LW’s job to verify the information more than she has by querying HR.

            3. fhqwhgads*

              But the advice isn’t “fire her right now for lying”. It’s “alert someone who can then choose to dig into it more”, and then you attempt to confirm it. It’s not OP’s job to try to validate this to her own satisfaction. Frankly, it sounds like she’s seen enough that she thinks it credible. So she can pass it on to the company who can then determine if they find it credible. All the research you’re suggesting isn’t on OP. It’s on HR and the supervisor. The deal is “I found this stuff out. I don’t know if it’s true, but it seems like it may be. Figured you’d want to know.” Unless you know management is totally unreasonable and won’t make any attempt to verify, OP isn’t going in with a conclusion. She’s going in with a suggestion that someone else dig deeper.

              1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                +1
                This way OP has brought it up in case its a flat lie. And boss can reassure OP if Larisa was hired on merit despite a resume saying she had a non-salaried role keeping the books for her husband’s business and had ‘coursework towards “her degree.

            4. Observer*

              If there is one thing we know is that liars will lie. There are some exceptions, as people can change. But it doesn’t happen easily or quickly. If this woman liked there is NO reason to believe she will not lie again and a LOT of reason to believe that she WILL. The OP does not need 10% iron-clad proof that she will lie again. There is enough possibility that an employer can take this into consideration and be acting totally reasonably.

              The concept of “snitching” really has very little place in the workplace. The only question is whether this is something that directly impacts the person’s work; something illegal / unethical or something that could bring major harm to the employer. Someone with this level of dishonesty is absolutely someone who poses a significant risk to the organization.

      2. Czhorat*

        Yep. And Larissa is a divorcee returning to the workforce after the dissolution of her marriage. Requirements of experience can be a high barrier, and true “entry level, no experience required” positions would put her in competition with much younger applicants with likely lesser financial needs.

        What does OP — or anyone else for that matter — have to gain by disclosing this?

        1. Parenthetically*

          In my mind it’s more what she has to lose by failing to disclose it, alas! I hate this entire situation, I hate our degree-obsessed work culture, I think it sucks that Larissa is likely to be out on her ear as a result of this conversation. But what happens if Nosie Josie is right, it comes out, and OP’s boss finds out Josie told OP about it ages ago and she did nothing?

          Next time I teach a philosophy class, this is my hypothetical situation for the midterm essays.

          1. Czhorat*

            I don’t think Josie has any connection to OP’s boss. The OP has no responsibility here so far as I can tell.

          2. Fortitude Jones*

            I asked this above but, how would the boss find out OP knew? The only other person who knows Larisa lied is the cousin who doesn’t work for the company, and I highly doubt she’ll tell Larisa she dimed her out to OP. So if Larisa’s lie is exposed at work, the boss would just assume the whole team was duped.

              1. Fortitude Jones*

                Eh, I’m not arguing the morality of this – I don’t care either way what OP does here and, since this isn’t her business and doesn’t affect her work in any way (and so far, doesn’t seem to affect Larisa’s work period), I wouldn’t hold it against OP if she didn’t say anything. My point is, everyone keeps using the argument that if the boss finds out OP knew about this lie then OP will be implicated and possibly fired for not speaking up almost as a way to force OP’s hand into getting involved in something that doesn’t concern her. And I’m saying, it’s highly unlikely that scenario would come to pass because no one but the cousin knows that OP knows. The cousin doesn’t work at their company, she’s more than likely not going to tell Larisa she told one of her coworkers the truth, so if Larisa is discovered and fired, OP’s not going to get dragged into this at all because her boss won’t know she knew anything.

                1. Amber*

                  Larisa probably thought no one would know if she fabricated her resume to get this job and yet someone has within 5 months of her working there.

                2. Lissa*

                  Amber – I don’t see the relevance or connection there, unless you just mean “any information could eventually come out.” Fabricating an entire work history/degree is way more likely to be caught as verifiably not true than proving that Josie told OP some information, IMO.

                3. Zillah*

                  @Lissa – I don’t disagree with your overarching point, but if the OP was sent screenshots, there is a paper trail.

                4. AKchic*

                  LW can easily say “I didn’t take the information seriously because who in their right mind would do such a thing, and I assumed you, as the supervisor/HR would have vetted Larisa properly. I didn’t feel comfortable spreading a rumor, nor was I comfortable digging into someone’s personal life based on a potential gossip” and left it at that.

                  Do I think that’s the way to go about it? I don’t know. I just think that *if* LW chooses not to report the situation to her employer and does get some blow-back, she does have an out should anyone try to play the “you knew, so you’re in trouble too” routine.

          3. Wintermute*

            For this one Kantian ethics applies nicely– consider the maxim “I shall dutifully report to my employer any facebook rumors about employees that are communicated to me”, would you be willing to make that a categorical imperative?

            Of course therein lies the rub of the Categorical Imperative test, you could just as easily generalize it to “When I hear rumors about an employee’s fitness I will report them to my supervisor” but I’d argue that “fitness” isn’t what’s at issue here, because she’s doing the job just fine… So it’s really closer to the first one, and phrasing it that way makes it clear this is strictly frivolous and should not be given a second thought.

        2. Lucette Kensack*

          The organization has an interest in employing people with integrity. If this is true, would you trust Larissa to let her manager know when she made an important mistake? Would you let her manage the budget for the office holiday party? I sure wouldn’t.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yep. And let’s say the OP doesn’t speak up. Then she finds out that Larisa has does something unethical at work or lies about her part in an encounter with the OP. The OP tries to flag it for management, and they respond that they’re sure she wouldn’t do it and it must be a misunderstanding. Let’s say they even believe Larisa over the OP. The OP has info they don’t have that would change their take on it but if she reveals it then, it looks weird that she hid it and like she has an agenda now. It’s a bad position for her to be in.

            1. Felix*

              That’s a pretty flimsy hypothetical to ruin someone’s life over. If Larissa does that, then OP can dust off her evidence and tell them to run a check with the college, and pretend it was new information to her at the time. Since when do we punish people – who by OP’s own account is doing ok – for doing things they MIGHT do?!

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                It’s not ruining her life if the resume isn’t fabricated. And if it is fabricated, it’s not ruining her life either; it’s natural consequences of really huge lies.

                And my point isn’t “This WILL happen.” It’s “in addition to all the other reasons to flag it, not speaking up and continuing to work with someone who may have massive integrity issues could put the OP in a really bad situation down the road.”

              2. Scion*

                It’s not the OP that is “ruining someone’s life.” The person who, not just lied, but fabricated an entire work history is the one who is responsible for the consequences of their actions.

                Like, if you witnessed a murder and reported it, and the murderer gets sent to jail, you’re not the one who ruined their life because you reported it. The murderer ruined their own life by, you know, committing murder. (Obviously murder is very different in *magnitude* than the offense here, but the logic is the same)

              3. Detective Amy Santiago*

                If it’s true that Larissa fabricated her work history and lied about her education, then she is the one who is ruining her life, not the OP.

                1. pamela voorhees*

                  Was just coming here to say this — thank you, Detective Santiago! OP, if you read these comments and you decide to follow the advice and report, you are not ruining anyone’s life. Larissa made choices, and that’s on Larissa, not on you.

                2. Anna*

                  This is the kind of thing people say so they can absolve themselves of any empathy. Larisa did lie and will probably face consequences, but “you only did this to yourself” is one of the shittiest ways to approach this.

                3. Avasarala*

                  This! It’s letting her feel the consequences of her own actions.

                  If Larissa didn’t lie, great, it should all come out OK.
                  If she did, then the company should know.

                  I don’t see how it’s more complex than that.

                4. Kt*

                  Anna, I strongly disagree. I have been a teacher for a long time. Some kids struggle. Some kids cheat. I can have a lot of empathy for a kid who cheats — but that does not mean I need to give them a grade for work they have not done. Empathy is not the same as facilitating a lie.

                5. Anon Accountant*

                  Agreed!! Natural consequence of her actions. I understand feeling desperate to find a job but disagree with fabricating a work history.

                6. Wintermute*

                  But who are we (or who is the LW) to ensure that she “gets her comeuppance” for it?

                  I say leave it be unless you have a compelling reason to get involved, there’s nothing to be gained by appointing yourself as an arbiter of justice.

              4. tallteapot*

                But who is ‘ruining’ Larisa’s life? Larisa. She is the one who made the poor choice here (presuming all of this is true that Larisa falsified her entire work history and degree). And losing a job, while a bad outcome, is different than ruining someone’s life.
                I would worry that if Larisa was willing to lie to get the job, she’d be willing to lie to keep the job. Covering her tracks if she made a mistake, throwing others under the bus, etc.

              5. jamberoo*

                If it’s true Larisa MADE UP her resume, then she’s responsible for putting herself in a situation where the consequences are not hers to decide and may include termination. People may not like the results of their choices, but they don’t get to choose those results based on how fair they are to them. She ran the risk, she pays the price if discovered.

              6. mark132*

                I would think this is a “speak now or forever hold your peace” sort of thing. You should report it immediately or probably not at all.

              7. Zillah*

                Just withholding the information isn’t a lie, but if the OP pretends it’s new information to them, they’ll be lying – which could definitely impact them.

              8. EPLawyer*

                LW is not ruining Larissa’s life. Larissa made her choice to lie. No one forced her to. No, not the rotten economy or over inflated requirements. She CHOSE to lie. If she loses her job over it, that’s the risk she took with her choice.

                LW is not snitching either. She has a duty to her employer, not Larissa.

              9. AKchic*

                LW is not “ruining” Larisa’s life. Larisa made a calculated risk to lie. She chose to create a completely fictitious resume and credentials that she didn’t have in order to secure a job that she may not have deserved, did not actually earn on her own merits, and seemingly does not qualify for. Imagine how well someone who actually meets the qualifications would do in that position.

                LW reporting the issue is not “ruining” anything anymore than someone reporting a leak is “ruining” the fun of children sneaking out of a window at midnight to play in the middle of the road. They all made their own choices and now they need to accept the consequences of what happens when they get caught.
                Had Larisa not lied, she would not be in this predicament. Josie could have easily been friends with the owner and told the owner rather than the LW. Or another family member (or even ex-husband) could very well be friends with the owner or hiring manager/HR person and it could still get back to the employer.
                The problem is – Larisa lied for personal gain. It doesn’t matter *why* she did it, because ultimately, it was for personal gain. Nobody can trust her, and she violated the company’s ethics and code of conduct (I would assume). The information should be given to the boss and let the boss handle the information.

          2. Oh No She Di'int*

            I second this.

            Also, OP mentioned that this is a very small company. I know from experience that such companies can be incredibly fragile. One bad error in judgment on the part of an employee can indeed bring down a small organization. Be it losing a single large client or a devastating Yelp review, small organizations can be quite vulnerable. Yes, a person with a college degree who is totally honest about their work history can also make a bad error in judgment. But in this case we have (probable) evidence that Larisa has already done so at this job!

            OP’s job may be at stake here. Report immediately.

        3. Kiwiii*

          While I’m not particularly worried about Larissa doing the job, I don’t think we should be associating age and financial need together or assuming that entry level positions are usually younger applicants.

        4. jamberoo*

          “Requirements of experience can be a high barrier, and true “entry level, no experience required” positions would put her in competition with much younger applicants with likely lesser financial needs.”

          Sounds like a Larissa problem, and one that should be worked on ethically and honestly. Life isn’t fair.

          1. Parenthetically*

            It’s okay for people to lament unfair societal structures and the negative impacts they have on people’s lives. It doesn’t mean everyone’s cheering for Larissa to falsify her resume.

            1. jamberoo*

              100% agreed — in fact, my father is facing this right now WRT ageism in tech.

              My point is that unfairness is never an excuse for deceit.

      3. The office jerk*

        I interviewed for a barista position for a chain with a mermaid in 2010. They asked what my educational background was, I told the interviewer I had a MS in Agriculture and Food Science. He answered that for customer facing positions they really prefer people who at least have a Business degree, ideally an MBA. For making coffee.

        1. Nanc*

          For my nearest mermaid chain store they’d be better off with Geriatric/tourist psychology degrees because that’s our tiny town economy and while both groups are on the whole very nice, they have some unique ordering challenges. (allergic to milk, deathly allergic, but not to whipped cream! Why won’t you give me whipped cream?)

          Food science sounds fascinating!

        2. MERMAID*

          Former mermaid manager here. That is absolutely not company policy (whether explicit or implied) and that guy needs a serious talking to if that’s the way he operates his stores. I can’t imagine how difficult it would have been to staff his stores if that was his preference, it was hard enough with a rotation of young kids fresh out of or just starting college.

          1. Firmly on the Fence This Time*

            Yet, he persisted.

            This is a fascinating topic and I’ll be dying to hear the update, too, but I lean heavily towards Team Do Nothing here. If Larisa can’t do the job, it’ll show up and her bosses should deal with it. If she’s dishonest in other areas, it’ll show up and her bosses should deal with it. Let the chips fall where they may; OP doesn’t work for Josie.

            I will cheerfully admit to my own bias, here: I tend to favor the employee over the employer until I find a reason not to, for systemic power imbalance reasons, and I have sympathy for Larisa’s resumé gap and the near-impossibility of her position. Ageism shouldn’t be a thing, but it is. The OP says she wouldn’t have been hired with such a gap, and it’s likely to be 100% true. Mermaid Manager was (maybe still is?) out of line in his judgment, but how many people didn’t get jobs because of this? He may well still be the master of his own little kingdom, there, and would I fault someone for telling him they had an MBA just to pick up a barista job? Reader, I would not. There’s the world the way it should be and then there’s the way that it is. If Larisa were an EMT or a cop or a heart surgeon her lie would strike me as dangerous to human life. This, not so much.

            Site rules say we’re to limit speculation here: why not accept OP’s reluctant admission that Larisa is so far succeeding in her job duties? It would grind my gears, too, to have spent so much on an education and paid so many dues in experience to achieve a position –or, worse! Actual skills!! — she’s achieved with this deceit; but I’ve also worked with people hired because they were related to or sleeping with the right person to get them employed, and I won no raises for my own integrity. Larisa got in the door dishonestly; staying in the room is up to her — and to OP, honestly. OP needs to decide if her desire to spill these beans is coming from a professional place or a resentful place, and then if she can live with the results of being the instrument of righteous whatever in this case. If she can, she can, and plenty of people on here are willing to see that Lying Liar Larisa fired, so she’ll have much support.

            It’s not clear to me that this lie necessarily implies others. I’m generally honest to a fault, and after the fourth time I was denied health insurance coverage pre-ACA because I was honest about the now-undetectable heart murmur I’d had as a preemie & didn’t have a cardiologist accessible to report a Cured By Date, I decided there’s a time and a place for honesty, and there are systems that don’t deserve it. Have I told my actual doctors about every health condition I’ve ever had? Hell yes. If one of my country’s political parties destroys guaranteed issue and my union is gutted and I have to re-apply for individual insurance again will I lie like a rag rug about the heart murmur of 45 years ago or whether I’ve ever had a UTI in my life, document each one with dates, treatment and date condition was cured? You bet your Cipro co-pay I will.

            But people have to eat, and get healthcare somehow. I feel sorry for everyone in this case, and think the least harm is done by saying nothing about this until a concrete reason comes up. I do get why people feel otherwise.

        3. msjwhittz*

          That…sounds like a terrible joke I would make if I encountered someone with way more education than the role required? I hope he was joking.

      4. Certified Scorpion Trainer*

        “When employers have ridiculous standards for jobs that aren’t required to complete the job duties, it leads to people taking desperate measures. Because they are desperate!”

        Yes! when I was job hunting, they were asking for a BA and two years’ experience for…get this, a receptionist position for $8/hr!

        1. Kiwiii*

          In my “omg I can’t do retail anymore, I need to start applying to place in the city 45 minutes away instead in the small towns around my not-quite-as-small-town” job hunt, I ran into so many reception/admin positions that required a degree and either paid $10/hr or were only about 20 hrs/week for $13.

        2. What day is today?*

          Way back in the 80s when I was a stay-at-home-parent, I wanted to work a seasonal retail Christmas job for some extra money. I finally just left my BA off my resumé. I never figured out how having a BA would make me an unfit worker for 5 weeks of holiday work, but that seemed to be “common knowledge.” So I folded sheets and towels and talked shoppers through the intricacies of thread count for 5 weeks, and, heck!, they paid me. My BA from an elite institution didn’t interfere with my job performance at all. Employers can be weird.

      5. Watry*

        It took me YEARS to find a job that wasn’t retail or call centers, and I’m still customer service! I would see tons of postings “entry level, 3-5 years of experience required”. I’m still upset about it.

        1. Media Monkey*

          how are those 2 things possible? surely entry level means no experience? or does it just mean “must work for pennies”?

    3. Karo*

      Yeah, I hate this. I’m behind the OP and Alison – I think this needs to be brought to the boss’ attention because of how egregious it is – but if she’s able to do the job without those items, then they shouldn’t be job requirements. And you’re right, it’s not going to lead to rewriting the requirements, it’s going to lead to stricter background checks.

      1. Lucette Kensack*

        Right! There isn’t a binary choice here (fire Larissa and uphold overly restrictive education requirements vs. keep Larissa and use this experience to relax the requirements).

        Assuming that everything the LW writes is true — Larissa lied about her degree and her experience and she is doing well in her job — it sounds like the right outcome is for Larissa to be fired (because integrity matters) and the organization to rethink its requirements (because Larissa’s success revealed that their education and/or experience requirements weren’t actually necessary).

        1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

          If the OP does reveal the information she’s been given, I hope the company does adjust their requirements.

          But something tells me they won’t.

        2. One of the Sarahs*

          Exactly! It’s baffling that this is being seen as either/or, when there are so many more different options.

    4. RUKiddingMe*

      +1

      I mean I’d want to know but then I don’t make ridiculous requirements for someone who is basically answering the phone and making coffee.

    5. wittyrepartee*

      Yeah. This. I know a lot of people without formal degrees who are whip smart and just had a really bad time while they were taking college courses.

      1. wittyrepartee*

        “Oh, I got through 1/2 of a really rigorous pre-law degree and then had to drop out because of PTSD”. <– not an incapable person!

      2. lemon*

        I totally agree that one can be super smart without a degree. I think a lot of jobs that say they require a degree aren’t as strict on that as a requirement if an applicant can show their experience in other ways. A lot of the time, I think employers just put down “BA required” because they think they should.

        I dropped out of college due to mental health issues. I was desperate for work, so I worked retail for two years, taught myself digital and marketing skills in my free time, eventually got hired at a very small company in a professional role that paid very little, was eventually able to parlay that into a job at a startup, went back to school part-time to finish my degree, and eventually landed a corporate role. Before I got my degree, I was honest about not having graduated with each employer, but my experience was more important to them than having that piece of paper.

    6. A Poster Has No Name*

      Agree wholeheartedly. Larisa was wrong to fabricate her resume, but she’s not wrong about how hard it is to find a job without a degree or after a period of unemployment. LW even says herself they’d never hire someone who had been out of work for that long, and it’s that type of attitude that makes people want/need to lie.

      1. sacados*

        That’s totally true, but that doesn’t make the lying itself right.
        Understandable, perhaps, but still not right.

      2. Devil Fish*

        Bullshit. Larisa got divorced “earlier this year” and has been working at LW’s company for 5 months, so she was only looking for a job for like *checks notes* three months.

        She sounds like a spoiled brat if she was whining about how hard it is to find a job but wasn’t willing to take a less prestigious job that would accept her real qualifications. I’ve known people with this attitude and they’re insufferable—but they’re also usually in high school. (Did she even apply for jobs using her real info or did she just start with the fake resume? Wtf.)

    7. Working Mom Having It All*

      My only concern here is whether Larisa is actually succeeding at the job, or whether she’s just lying. Or whether there’s a bit of a Dunning-Kruger effect going on, where Larisa has no idea all the things she doesn’t know (but which her colleagues assume she knows) and thus there’s a whole iceberg of things being handled incorrectly that management doesn’t know about yet.

      I also think that lying about her experience level is much more egregious than the degree. I’m a career admin, and my success in my current role directly corresponds to my years of experience doing this. I can’t imagine applying for a more senior role, claiming to have a lot more experience than I have, and just assuming it’ll all be hunky dory and I’ll muddle through somehow. There definitely are more junior vs. more senior admin roles, and the fact that this company was looking for someone with ~10 years of experience implies that this is not an entry level position. Also presumably they wanted someone with that level of experience because the position requires that, not as an arbitrary shot in the dark. Resumes aren’t “how much do you think you could probably figure out this job and not get fired?”, they’re supposed to document your actual experience.

      1. msjwhittz*

        I don’t see where in the letter OP states the company was looking specifically for 10 years of experience, just that the intro HR sent for Larissa indicated she had it? I don’t think we can tell from this letter what level of admin the role Larissa’s filling falls in. Obviously, fabricating a resume for any level of position is wrong, flat-out. I just don’t think we can pin this additional crime on her just based on the information provided!

        1. Working Mom Having It All*

          Why say you have 10 years of experience if it’s an entry level job? Also, if it’s an entry level job, how does the social media post whining about how tough it is to get a job with no experience play into this?

          Based on the facts we have, this was a job that was listed as requiring some previous experience.

          And a smart liar wouldn’t lie that big. Say you had one or two previous gigs that involved roughly this type of work. Don’t invent a decade of expertise.

          1. msjwhittz*

            People who have been out of work for an extended period of time are discriminated against in the workforce, even for entry level office positions.
            I agree with you that the job required previous experience, I disagreed with the assertion it required 10 years. If Larisa lied about having 10 years, I honestly don’t know why she lied about 10 years specifically, aside from the fact that, if you started working after college (typically 22) you would have 10 years experience at 32. (OP states Larisa is 32.)

    8. Bunny*

      I’ve always thought that there should be a college equivalent of a GED. I know people dumber than boxes of hair that somehow managed to obtain degrees and have seen so many positions that require degrees where I can’t see it making a difference.

      In fairness, I have seen some positions, particularly in government that will consider equivalent work experience but it is so hard to get your foot in the door in white collar fields to gain the experience.

      On top of that, we don’t even respect many people with degrees as far as rewarding them. Do you have any idea what a social worker makes? And it’s a field that your education is really important in.

      1. Kiwiii*

        I mean, social workers make drastically different money depending on where they’re employed. OldJob was an admin for a state CYF bureau, so I’d interact a lot with the counties and see pay scales and things. There were some that started at like under $18/hr and some that started at like $60k/year+ for the same position, 1.5hrs away.

      2. Alanna of Trebond*

        A few colleges are offering something called competency based education, which is basically that — it lets you test out of credits based on previous experiences, and do the rest of the degree at your own pace (it’s great for veterans and others who have been in structured environments that teach you stuff but aren’t college). It’s taking awhile to catch on though, because there are real concerns about unscrupulous people taking advantage of this model to set up diploma mills and also because at the end of the day, college degrees are a social construct that mean whatever employers, etc, choose for them to mean.

    9. ZK*

      My thing is, she may be quite competent, but she fabricated pretty much her entire background. To me, that’s an issue of dishonesty and poor judgement. Yes, the requirements for some jobs are stupid, and should probably be rethought, but she LIED to get a job. What else is she going to lie about?

      1. Sam.*

        And it’s not a lie like, “I have a degree,” when in fact you still had a semester or year of coursework left. The scale of this lie is potentially pretty massive (if it’s true, she’s lying about roughly a third of her life!) That’s the part that makes me fall on the side of reporting. It’s very possible that it was a one-time thing done out of desperation and there will be no further concerns. There’s also a chance that this is a huge red flag about how she sometimes chooses to operate. Either way, I think the manager should know so they can keep an eye out. (To be clear, though, I definitely think OP should also encourage TPTB to think carefully about the stated requirements for the position.)

      2. Working Mom Having It All*

        It also implies that nobody can trust her that she is “performing well” in the position. What do they have to go by, that she doesn’t seem outwardly flustered? She doesn’t ask anyone for help? They hand her invoices and they go away somewhere and presumably they are getting entered and filed correctly? Someone who has no idea what they’re doing can do A LOT of damage before anyone even realizes there’s a problem. Especially if it’s an admin supporting a team of people who don’t do that kind of work, because they won’t know what to look for and are just happy nobody is bothering them about it.

        1. Anna*

          It doesn’t actually imply that at all. I think we can assume that if the things were going poorly in such a small company, it would be obvious.

          1. Colette*

            I disagree. If she’d been there for 5 years, maybe, but poor filing (and even poor handling of financial stuff) can be hidden or brushed off a a rare miss for 5 months.

            1. The Rules are Made Up*

              Sure, and then she’ll be fired. So why should the OP get involved in this? If Larisa is fine at her job, everything is fine. If she sucks at her job, she is fired. OP isn’t her manager so I really don’t see how this is her business. And the “Job might find out about the private conversation she had with her friend” theory isn’t doing it for me.

              1. HA2*

                Because if Larisa sucks at her job, that needs to be found out ASAP before she does more damage. It’s OP’s business because OP is an employee at the company and presumably is being paid to work in the company’s interests.

              2. Devil Fish*

                If Larisa isn’t doing the work correctly, there could be regulatory consequences. This is a law office, where things like record-keeping and billing practices are taken pretty seriously, and it’s a small business that can’t eat huge fines the same way larger businesses can when they screw up.

                It is possible (though definitely not likely) that OP could be out of a job if Larisa isn’t doing the job in accordance with regulations and finding that out sooner than later means there’s less fallout for the company to deal with.

        2. Avasarala*

          I agree. If she says she has experience, everyone is trusting her on the assumption that she has that experience and that HR hired someone competent. Their trust is unfounded, and they might not be checking her as thoroughly as they would someone with no experience. She might be making mistakes she doesn’t even have the expertise to know she’s making.

    10. Bunny Girl*

      I couldn’t agree more. Every single position where I work requires a degree. All of them. And a lot of them are clerical/client service and it just blows my mind. There is literally nothing in my job that a high school student couldn’t figure out if they could learn certain software. I roll my eyes constantly looking at our employment page.

    11. TootsNYC*

      I agree so much.

      I once tried to justify the college requirement to a high school student in a graphic arts class at the School of Art and Design who wanted to go into publication design, and just a few years later began to feel like a shithead.

      I mean, some training would be necessary just so your boss doesn’t have to teach you anything. But a dedicated 2-year course would probably be enough.

      And stuff that’s just general common sense? You don’t need a degree for so much of it.

    12. Close Bracket*

      jobs that are mainly clerical and client service and transparently do not require skills you’d have to learn in a classroom

      OP says it’s a mid-level associate job. The skills one learns in a classroom that apply to jobs like this are critical thinking and analysis skills, not the classroom materials, necessarily. Perhaps one can learn these on the job at other jobs, at least enough to be an account coordinator (we have no idea what that means), and perhaps employers will consider years of work experience in lieu of degrees. I see that a lot. The point is, though, however unfair it is to require critical thinking for clerical and client service jobs (and it’s not unfair, frankly), that’s not what this job is. It’s midlevel. It’s fair to have the standards that they have.

      1. msjwhittz*

        OP says they are a mid-level associate, not Larissa. I can’t find anything mentioning the level of the admin position Larissa holds (account coordinator at a very small firm, so it could be anything from entry to mid-level.)

        1. Working Mom Having It All*

          Since Larisa had to lie about her experience to get the job, and she apparently invented a decade of it, and also complained publicly that it sucks that you need experience to get a job, we can surmise that this isn’t an entry level role.

          1. msjwhittz*

            I disagree! I have 10 years of experience and used it to get my current entry level job…because I switched careers to an administrative assistant position.
            Listen, if Larisa lied it’s wrong, and I don’t dispute that. But I don’t see proof in this letter that Larisa’s in a mid-level role, given the duties the OP describes and the fact that OP says she, a mid-level employee, is senior to Larisa. This is a little like the commenters saying Larisa, as a divorced mom, lied out of desperation to feed her kids. From my reading, the OP’s letter doesn’t support either assertion.

          2. Nephron*

            As someone applying for jobs right now, yeah you can have entry-level jobs that need a degree and experience because everyone requires a degree and no one wants to train people.

            I have also applied for jobs with the degree above what was required and been told I was not among the most qualified that applied so no interview.

            If the 10 years experience are real, maybe she read an advice column and realized she could use volunteer work, it could make up for the degree when BA+3 years was required.

      2. Not Me*

        OP says *OP* is in a mid-level associate at a small firm. She says Larissa is an account coordinator who’s duties are mostly clerical and client outreach. She also says that Larissa is fundamentally good at her job.

      3. Agnodike*

        No, the OP is a midlevel associate. Larisa is an accounts coordinator, and the OP describes her job duties as follows: “Most of her duties are clerical and client outreach, not things which are too difficult to pick up on the job.”

      4. Former Retail Manager*

        Completion of a college degree does not ensure critical thinking skills. I have many co-workers who are required to have at least a Bachelor’s to work here, that do not have critical thinking skills. Just sayin’. I see your point in your comment, but equating one with the other is flawed.

    13. Myriad Tones*

      Yep. For a lot of entry-level clerical jobs, including in accounting, a degree isn’t necessary at all and you don’t even need much experience. Those are the jobs you take to get experience in the first place!

    14. Grapey*

      “Maybe we need to rethink our requirements and expectations…”

      This isn’t always on the employer. Some federal accreditations require certain roles to have degrees and auditors will look at employees records. Our workplace will pay for competent employees that get caught up in this red tape to go back to school though, and the auditors allow it.

    15. Amethystmoon*

      I agree. Irritates me to no end that 99% of the jobs I have had, I learned the things on the job for and was trained on it. The computer skills such as Microsoft office, I taught myself using computer books from the library so I could pass the temp agency computer tests when I was younger. I do have a degree, but I really don’t use it for my job. It’s like it’s a barrier to working at all in decently-paying jobs that we should have to prove that we belong with the middle class and those who are too poor to get degrees can’t get hired.

      1. YetAnotherUsername*

        “It’s like it’s a barrier to working at all in decently-paying jobs that we should have to prove that we belong with the middle class and those who are too poor to get degrees can’t get hired.”

        ding ding ding. We have a winner.

        This is exactly what it is. In a country without free third level education, where it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of class, this rule is absolutely about a back door to discrimination.

        ” You can’t work here unless you come feom a background where you could afford to take 4 years off from full time work and get into tens of thousands of debt in your early twenties.” = “we don’t want any lower class people around here”.

    16. Mimi Me*

      I get what you’re saying, but I think that this is also a clear indication of Larisa’s character. That she potentially made up an entire 10 year work history and education background is a big lie, regardless of the fact that the she can do the job. I know that I would look differently at her were I to find out about it.

    17. YetAnotherUsername*

      Came here to say the same thing. Why on earth do they demand a degree to do clerical work!? I’m kind of on Larisa’s side if it’s true that every job in that area needs a degree. It’s a choice betwren lie, starve, or borrow 80k+ to get a degree, to get a job that will allow you to pay off your debt in 40 years! Lie seems like the best of those three options.

    18. CoveredInBees*

      I don’t know if you were referring to a specific incident or chose a university at random, but I am truly a graduate of Universiteit Utrecht. However, I have the paperwork to prove it.

    19. Rexish*

      In my work the requirement is to have a minumum of a bachelor’s degree. From any field. As long as you have a degree. Quite honestly, this is a job that is not taught anywhere and you learn on the job. Anyone with enough motivation and good analytical skills could do it. No degree necessary. Going to university can be used as a measurement of analytical skills, I guess but it seriously is not always true.

      When i started at work I needed to bring a copy of my degree diploma and my work certificate (We get a signed certificate from every job we’ve had that shows the dates and job description. Upon request we also get a work evaluation). Of course these are possible to fake, but I also think there is a big leap between lying in CV and faking certificates.

    20. Former Retail Manager*

      this is exactly what I came to say. I have several friends and family members who are intelligent, competent individuals that are really cut off from well paying jobs with benefits because they lack a degree when it’s really not needed for the position.

    21. Tranya*

      “Demanding college degrees in jobs that are mainly clerical and client service…”

      1. Larisa is some kind of account manager. It doesn’t sound like her job is entirely clerical.

      2. Degrees do confer skills beyond “ready for the job on Day 1” skills. Learning how to read, speak, and write well are absolutely vital skills, but ones that too many people seem to lack. And I can see how they’re especially important in client service positions.

  3. Jennifer*

    Are you sure your friend has the correct information? This is really basic stuff to check.

    I have mixed feelings about this. It reminds me of the “career receptionist” letter from earlier today. Many of us, regardless of our level of education, learned our jobs on site. Even the OP admits that Larisa seems to be doing a good job. If she really doesn’t have a degree and managed to be intelligent enough to figure out how to do a competent job, a degree probably shouldn’t be required for her role. I don’t see an evil person that’s going to lie to clients and embezzle from the firm but someone that was in a desperate situation. Doesn’t make her actions right, but if I were you I’d keep my mouth shut. I’m sure many disagree.

    1. Kathleen_A*

      Me, for one! I would have no hesitation about telling my supervisor. Maybe the job really doesn’t require a degree, but that’s not the OP’s call, and the scale of deception here is just…mind boggling, really, assuming the OP is correct.

      1. Jennifer*

        I just think there’s more to the story. It’s pretty easy to verify work history and education, even if they didn’t check references. We don’t actually know that Larisa lied on her resume or in her interview, just that the email that went out differs from what her cousin told the OP. This would go in the “mind your business” file for me.

        And why is the cousin so invested? That’s really odd.

        1. Jadelyn*

          Yeah, the cousin bit kinda got to me – the very first question that popped into my head was “why is the cousin getting involved?” Especially to the point of taking and sending screenshots of old FB posts.

          Having seen family members get petty and vindictive over intra-family squabbles before, I’d be VERY wary of taking action based on this. This could well be OP/OP’s workplace getting weaponized in a family fight.

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            So glad to see I’m not the inly one thinking this way. Cousin *wants* her yo get fired. It doesn’t usually work that way with healthy families. What’s Friend’s agenda?

            1. Fortitude Jones*

              I was wondering if the cousin was actually Larisa’s cousin or if it was her ex-husband’s cousin – the latter would make more sense as to why said cousin felt the need to bring this to OP’s attention.

              1. Engineer Girl*

                As I mentioned elsewhere, it’s also possible that Josie has been burned by Larissa’s past lies. There’s no way to know and it would be wrong to speculate.

                Disclosure: I have a family member that lies all the time.

                1. Engineer Girl*

                  We don’t know if there are any, anymore than we know if she’s a single mother, or Josie a gossip, or Josie is vindictive, or anything else.

                  I am simply presenting another alternative. To the anti-Josie narrative.

                2. Anna*

                  But…you did speculate and introduced a whole new way to bury Larissa under a sea of “she’s a consummate liar” comments.

                3. Myraid Tones*

                  “There’s no way to know and it would be wrong to speculate.”, said the person speculating that Larissa is a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad lying liar who lies.

                4. TechWorker*

                  As you say, this is speculation ;) I also really really struggle to see how this particular lie could burn either the cousin or OP though, tbh. Worst case scenario she’s not good enough for the job and eventually gets fired – well – that was fully possible even if her resume was completely true. Still doesn’t really affect OP and *definitely* doesn’t affect the cousin…

                5. AKchic*

                  Ugh – I feel this.

                  I have no problems in outing certain family members, or others who have burned me in the past. Scorched earth. I see it as protecting others from harm. Especially if I know that individual is just going to use the position to find more victims.
                  Larisa interfaces with clients. We don’t know what kind of clients, nor what industry this is. I’d be very wary considering how… informal she is with the truth. I mean, to be honest, if this were a neighborhood, Larisa and Truth would be residing in NYC in the same decade, but may only have been on the same street corner the same day.

              2. yala*

                yeah, maybe it’s the whole Sicilian thing, but I can’t imagine actively gunning for my own cousin like that.

                Different families, different closeness and all, but it’s just…weird. Like, why would she assume that her cousin lied to bring it up to you?

          2. Anonymeece*

            Eh. Yes, maybe. I could definitely see that.

            But I also have some shady relatives that I would warn friends about if I found out they were hired at friends’ workplace. Granted, in my relatives’ case, it’s mostly criminal stuff, not lying-about-experience/degree, but I can see there being a reason to flag it for a friend that is out of good-heartedness rather than spite.

          3. Manon*

            LW said the cousin is “a close friend, Josie”. This is something I would feel obligated to tell a close friend. If Josie hadn’t told LW and Larisa’s lies later came to light, LW might wonder why Josie had never said anything if she knew what was going on.

        2. mcr-red*

          See, for me, the fact that cousin did reach out to friend at the job is the reason I’d mention it to bosses. It is really invested, and from a family member, it just makes me wonder if Larisa has scammer tendencies and has caused problems in the past and the family just wants to give someone a heads-up. If OP doesn’t want to tell bosses, I’d at least ask my friend why she’s imparting this information. Is she too mad that she went to college and spent the time/money getting the degree while Larisa just makes things up and swans in? Or does she know something about Larisa’s personality that she wants to warn other people?

        3. Kathleen_A*

          Jennifer, Jadelyn, maybe there is more to the story, but…I don’t – I truly don’t – understand how whatever failings Josie does or does not have trump Larisa’s failings. If the OP’s supervisor knows all about Larisa’s background and hired her anyway, well and good. But the OP has *ample* reason to wonder how truthful that supposed background is, and the OP would be, IMO, negligent in her duty to her employers if she doesn’t report this to the higher ups and let them take it from there.

        4. smoke tree*

          I think that’s a good reason to present it to your boss as a possible concern that you’ve been made aware of, rather than a definite fact. Apart from Larisa’s performance, I think it would be worth flagging the possibility of such a massive oversight by the hiring team to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Ultimately, I think this is a serious enough issue that I would consider it my manager’s place to make the judgment call, provided that I trusted my manager to handle it reasonably.

        5. Tequila Mockingbird*

          I am guessing, as have many others here, that Larisa is a habitual liar and the cousin wants her to be held accountable.

        6. Observer*

          Yes, it’s odd that the cousin is doing this. But that doesn’t really matter. Maybe Larissa is unlucky enough to have a really nasty cousin. Maybe Larissa is the nasty one who has alienated her family. Maybe Larissa’s cousin is concerned for her friend and puts her loyalty to friend over loyalty to cousin. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

          None of the matters. The OP saw enough to believe that this is probably true. It’s egregious and something the employer is entitled to be aware of.

        7. So so anon*

          You would be astounded at how many places do not check references.

          We had an instance here where our incompetent HR person did not get around to checking if a new hire had the PhD she claimed she had (university job and the PhD did matter and was required ). The new hire started and I gather someone expressed surprise that we had hired someone who had never finished their doctorate.

        8. LabTechNoMore*

          I’ve got to side against Alison in this case because of the cousin’s investment in this matter combined with the not-verifiable evidence presented to OP by the cousin. It sounds more like a vendetta being settled than anything else to me.

          If the employee went through the proper channels for the role, and got it, and you don’t have much more than oddball evidence from a third party with no stake in the company, put it in the MYOB category. Even bringing it up to the manager might cast a shadow over this employee’s credentials that the company officially has no reason to doubt. Unless you have reason to believe hiring is very laze fare or otherwise unreliable, for now trust that they did their jobs correctly.

          I’d also scrutinize any future interactions with the cousin in question: Do they follow up with you? Do they imply that they should be fired or threaten you? Have they made it clear why they’re telling you all this? It just seems fishy that a third party is unsolicitedly bringing you information detrimental to the employment of their relative. My AbusiveFamily-Ometer is off the charts for this one…

          1. Devil Fish*

            Goddamn. I’m glad so many people here have never had relatives who did things that they felt obligated to warn their friends about. My abusive-family-o-meter is also pinging but not at Josie.

            This isn’t some rando hitting up LW on LinkedIn with a weird anti-Larisa screed or something, LW said “Josie, a close friend” was surprised that LW’s company had hired her cousin without a degree or any relevant experience. That sounds like the kind of information I’d pass on to a friend whose company was about to be burned by a compulsive liar, even if the liar was related to me.

        9. sunshyne84*

          Exactly. That’s why I would just stay out of it. If it were a situation like someone being a convicted felon who served for robbing a bank and is now working at a bank then yea, but this is just not something I would get involved in. I am also wondering what’s the cousins angle? If they find out and fire her then what?

      2. Kate R*

        Agreed. I think this is the kind of information I wouldn’t feel comfortable keeping to myself because I’d feel like I was aiding in the deception of a coworker. Still I would actually remove all the language about Larisa possibly faking her resume from Alison’s scripts because it’s a pretty harsh accusation, and OP hasn’t seen the resume. Instead, I’d replace it with, “The information I learned from my friend was contradictory to the blurb that HR sent out, which raised some concern with me, and I didn’t feel comfortable not passing it along to you in case it’s something you want to look into.” That, imo, is less accusatory and more just flagging that some things don’t add up. “Looking into it” could be finding out that Larissa lied, HR made a mistake, the cousin has the wrong info, or it could be that upper management thinks Larissa is doing a great job and doesn’t care what her resume says.

    2. Elizabeth Proctor*

      It’s pretty easy to imagine a firm of less than 10 people not doing any more than simply checking references (which might be fabricated as well) or even skipping that step and checking nothing.

      1. Jennifer*

        Not even a call to say, “hey did so and so work here from this date to this date?” “Did she graduate from this school?” I guess that’s possible but just seems unlikely. I still stand behind the rest of the comment.

          1. Jennifer*

            References, I understand, but I just meant more like an employment verification. Did they work there, yes or no? I thought a reference was more detailed information about the quality of their work?

              1. Kathleen_A*

                My employer often does – and we’re not all that small either! It depends entirely on the person doing the hiring whether any reference checking is done or not.

              2. Environmental Compliance*

                My current job did (under a previous management company). My references were not called, and to my knowledge they did not verify any of my educational history (one degree was under my maiden name, which I didn’t list on my resume, but I didn’t get any questions). They went on what was on my resume only (plus the interviews, which were pretty good).

                We employ approximately 65 people.

                I believe when the current management company took over, they verified what histories they could without requiring all of us to resubmit references etc.

              3. Fortitude Jones*

                Yep, my large, multi-national software company did not do a background check, reference check, or drug screen on me for my current role. I would have been fine if they had (I had to pass two federal background checks to get my adjusters license in two different states a few years back), but I thought it was odd that a company of this size and in this sphere would not want to confirm my work history at the very least since I was a career changer only 17 months prior to them hiring me.

              4. Tinybutfierce*

                My last (truly awful) job was this way. If your employment history looked legit and you did alright in your one in-person interview, that was pretty much it. It made a lot more sense when I found out the company’s HR person had zero actual HR training of any kind.

            1. Gipson*

              I’ve had 4 professional, “career” style jobs over the past 12 years and not one of them called a reference or verified work history.

            2. pcake*

              I’ve known people who have friends act as references including some who actually answer the phone “Last job office, can I help you?”

        1. CL*

          Maybe they did call and never received an answer, so moved on to the next step in the process. I have known some people who seem to think that’s an acceptable thing to do, rather than pause the whole process until they get verification or even moving on to another candidate. If there’s a lot of pressure to fill the position and, on paper, she’s the strongest candidate, maybe they couldn’t fathom anyone lying about these things.

        2. kittymommy*

          I actually know of a lot of small firms that don’t do that (heck I’ve worked for a few firms that don’t do it), especially if it is a degree from a few years ago, out of the area, and/or a large university. The owner/operator/manager just “trust their gut” and don’t check references or anything else.

        3. Karo*

          FWIW, I worked at a background screening company and we used to not do reference checks on the employees we hired. We literally had a full department dedicated to reference checks and various verifications, and we didn’t conduct them for ourselves.

          (As noted earlier, though, I agree with your main sentiment – if she’s doing a good job without having the degree, etc, it’s just a crappy situation.)

        4. Witchy Human*

          Mixed feelings. Every employer I’ve had has checked professional references, a few have confirmed dates of employment for every job on my resume, but I don’t think any of them ever called a university to verify a degree.

          You can’t assume someone was a superstar employee without investigating their work history, but most of us would feel safe assuming that they were not fully fictionalizing the past decade of their life.

          1. Spreadsheets and Books*

            You don’t need to call a university to verify a degree. In the US, National Student Clearinghouse will give you degree information in a matter of seconds for all participating universities. I’ve been though a number of background checks and that’s how it’s always been done for me.

          2. EventPlannerGal*

            Do you need to actually call the university? My workplace stipulates in the offer letter that the job offer is conditional upon receipt of a copy of the university degree certificate, plus the references. Previous jobs have done the same. I feel pretty comfortable saying that any employer who just takes someone’s word for their qualifications is not doing a great job at this hiring thing.

        5. Lindsay*

          You’d be surprised how often companies don’t complete basic steps like this. I used to work in a university registrar’s office and part of my job was verifying degrees. I got calls more than once from companies who had already made job offers to candidates who claimed they had earned degrees from the university, only to find out they either had never graduated or were never enrolled. In some cases it sounded like the job candidate had already started work by the time the company was doing the verifications. I’m sure there were many other companies that never bothered to verify degrees at all. Smaller companies in particular may have a less standardized process for this sort of thing.

          1. Stephanie*

            This does happen. I work in HR, and you’d be surprised at how often hiring managers want to start someone in a week, but background checks can’t get done that quickly. If there’s any discrepancies with what comes back vs. what the client reported, then we can let them go.

        6. Katieinthemountains*

          I worked for one! I got the job via a friend (a new friend, who didn’t know squat about me). And one day, a guy didn’t come in…because he’d been arrested and extradited to a different state, where he’d escaped from a work detail!!!! We put the fun in dysFUNctional at that place.

        7. Starbuck*

          Can you just call most schools, though? My university explicitly states on their website that they won’t verify degrees for third parties/employers; you’d either have to have the candidate get a transcript forwarded ($$ + time, but seems most sensible if the education component is truly important) or they direct you to the National Student Clearinghouse, which is also $$.

          1. Elizabeth Proctor*

            I would think it would be a FERPA violation for universities to give that information out. But IANAL and I don’t work in higher ed.

      2. many bells down*

        I just had an interview for a position where the guy hiring (one of the owners) had no interest in my references. He said he “didn’t think it was necessary.” Now, I didn’t lie about my education or skills but apparently I could have pretty easily!

      3. Picard*

        Yep. My small company doesnt check references despite my regular attempts to do so. Boss thinks anyone the applicant put down is only going to say nice things so he doesnt think its worth it. Shrug.

        1. Antilles*

          Your boss would be surprised.
          He’s right that most people don’t put down references that are going to straight up trash them. But you’d be amazed at the number of calls I’ve had that go something like “Captain Jellico? Well, he definitely knew his stuff technically, excellent really” but then you ask a follow-up question and it comes out (either directly or indirectly) that boy oh boy was he a miserable person to work with.

          1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

            I was trained in how to spot “pass-the-trash” child abusers in reference checks. Two thirds of the reference check involved asking questions like, “Would you trust Fergus to mind your child?” and then listening for awkward silences, hemming and hawing, etc.

            Because a lot of people aren’t going to come out and say, “I think Fergus is a child abuser,” unless they have concrete proof. But they won’t say, “Fergus is totally safe to be around children!!” if they have concerns. You’ll hear that difference, when asking questions.

        2. AuroraLight37*

          I once did a reference check where candidate Arya listed a reference from her degree program- fifteen years ago. When I called, the professor didn’t know who I was talking about. I had to give him about five sentences of detail as to who this person was, and then he remembered. He gave a decent reference, but when you compared that to candidate Sansa whose reference was recent and glowing, well, it weighed pretty heavily against Jane.

      4. RabbitRabbit*

        I know of a person brought on to work at a hospital via a staffing agency; the temp had referred to a nursing license on their resume but was not using those skills on the job.

        The department decided to hire the temp, and the hospital’s HR went through the background check process – the candidate had never held a nursing license. That’s the sort of thing you can check for yourself on the web these days.

        I hold an extremely low view of that particular staffing agency.

      5. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

        It’s super normal at small companies. I know someone at OldJob who claimed being an Systems Engineering student at a local university, when I know from former students that the institution only offers Coding Bootcamp. However, since this employee’s work is decent enough (and cheap) he stays there.

      6. doreen*

        I’ve known more than one person who basically worked for an individual ( let’s say as a admin for a professional with a solo practice ) who lost their job when that person retired. The only way to confirm employment for those people is possibly through tax documentation or by contacting the now retired former employer. The problem is the latter method is very easy to fake. I might think I’m calling Dr Vandelay , the applicant’s employer of ten years who has retired and actually be speaking to the applicant’s elderly neighbor.

    3. Johanna*

      I agree with Alison. I think it’s a bit over the top to request a degree for this sort of work, and a university qualification doesn’t mean someone is more capable than anyone else.
      However, I busted my butt at university to earn my qualifications and it’s not ok for someone to claim to have these, when they don’t. I have a close friend who has two qualifications on his resume that he didn’t complete. It’s unethical.

    4. RUKiddingMe*

      Yeah maybe Friend doesn’t really know Coworker despite being related. My own mother could not have told anyone what I did for work much less when/where/how long I worked. A mere cousin? Not in a million years…

      1. Liz*

        Exactly! I have cousins that I am quasi-close to, mainly due to distance. While I know about certain things in their lives, what they do and where they work? I couldn’t tell you.

      2. Jennifer*

        I think my brother and I are pretty close and I just found he switched jobs, several months after the fact.

      3. Fortitude Jones*

        Well, remember – OP said she or the friend (can’t remember which) found Facebook posts where Larisa was bemoaning the fact that she couldn’t find work because she didn’t have a degree. So this situation is a bit different as Larisa herself put her own business out in the street for everyone (presumably) on her timeline to see.

    5. NotAnotherManager!*

      I agree with this – very mixed feelings. I’m not a fan of lying (at all), but Larisa sounds like she is objectively fine at her job. If no one did a basic background check (which, for us, includes degree verification and confirmation of employment history), I’m kind of wondering what OP gains from turning her in?

      I am also really curious to know what ax her cousin has to grind with her that she’d go to the trouble of turning her in.

    6. Mediamaven*

      But here’s the thing. If someone would lie to that degree, they will lie again. I’ve seen it happen a millions times. They don’t see anything wrong with lying if it’s in their best interest.

    7. Lissa*

      I’m having such a hard time with this one! Intellectually yes I agree – lying is not a good thing to do, she could’ve taken a job from someone else who deserved it just as much and didn’t lie, the supervisor should be the one to decide, etc.

      But emotionally? I feel so much sympathy for Larisa and don’t know if I could bring myself to say anything.

    8. NowAFed*

      Jennifer, I agree with you. This is a woman, with no job history, just divorced AND doing well at the job. Leave her alone. Your pissed-off-ness, OP, is no good reason to blow up her life. Yeah, these big lies are wrong, but you are not her judge, jury, executioner. Your HR screwed up. Stay out of it.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        Would you feel the same way if you lost out on a job to someone who lied about their experience? I doubt it.

  4. President Porpoise*

    While Larisa may not be visibly struggling with the aspects of her job currently assigned, you’re in a small company that could theoretically grow. She may get promoted, or assigned new job duties on the assumption that her non-existent previous work experience or schooling will allow her to make the changes that the company needs to make to remain competitive.
    If I was the supervisor, I’d want to know so I could at the very least factor that information into succession planning decisions, etc.

    1. President Porpoise*

      To be fair, I agree completely with other commenters that say that requiring a degree for a unskilled entry level job is bananacrackers, and it would suck a lot if Larisa was fired over this. I also agree that cousin could be trying to sabotage Larisa for reasons unknown to the OP. But I still think that knowing what a direct report’s actual abilities is important in order to supervise effectively, especially at a small firm where someone might be asked to wear a lot of hats.

        1. Lilo*

          This is someone who is potentially dealing with sensitive client information. Would you be comfortable with someone who had demonstrated dishonesty handling your legal files?

          1. Jadelyn*

            To me, there’s a difference between casual dishonesty and “I can’t find work, I’m running out of money and options, so I’ll do whatever I have to do in order to get a job.” I don’t think we have enough data to assume that Larisa is a *dishonest person* based on one incident of…let’s call it survival dishonesty.

            1. Lilo*

              Faking a degree and ten years of work is seriously dishonest. It’s a serious, serious lie. One that requires continued lying over and over to keep the original lie going.

              1. Close Bracket*

                Faking a degree and 10 years of work on a resume is like, 3 sentences. It took 5 min to fabricate.

                1. A*

                  Except she has to keep the lie going. It’s not uncommon for conversations in the workplace, or with clients, to turn towards previous work experiences and academic backgrounds.

                2. Ginger Baker*

                  Agree with this^. To those saying “conversations turn to past work experiences and schooling all the time”: I have never been asked about previous work experiences outside of interviews – all conversations that include “Well, the perks were better at [x], I do miss the free breakfast” or “I can tell you that back at BigFirm they did it this way, but they were much more centralized in general…” are all conversations I started. And no one, ever, for any reason, has asked me about college at my jobs. Source: Career admin in BigLaw who does not have a degree (but has never lied about it!).

                3. doreen*

                  @Ginger Baker , it’s not necessarily about being asked questions about your past jobs or education. In my experience, if someone starts a conversation with ““Well, the perks were better at [x], I do miss the free breakfast” “, someone else will reply with something like ” When I worked at [y] they provided free lunch” or ” “When I worked at [z], they didn’t even give us bottled water.” Or says ” My son is thinking about going to Your College, what can you tell me about it?” That the sort of thing that results in continual lies.

              2. Joielle*

                Yeah… all it takes is one actual alum of the university being like “Hey, another class of 2008 alum! What dorm did you stay in?” and the whole thing falls apart, unless Larisa is an AMAZING liar.

                There seem to be a lot of people basically saying that the two options are OP says nothing and Larisa has a long and happy career at the company, or OP says something and Larisa gets fired immediately. I feel like even if OP says nothing, there’s a decent chance that Larisa gets found out at some point. So OP’s real decision is, say nothing and have some risk of fallout when that happens, or say something and speed the process up but lower the risk of fallout to OP herself.

              3. a1*

                Agree. This is a huge, bald faced lie! I would want to know if I was working with someone that had no problem this big, for this long. What else are they easily lying about?

              4. Alanna of Trebond*

                Yeah, this is basically the plot of Younger, except in reverse (that was an experienced person lying to seem less experienced and get around ageism). It’s a Big Lie!

            2. Lilo*

              I mean what if she’s running out of money and is desperate. It won’t hurt anyone to just borrow from this client account, right? She’ll put it back and she was so desperate.

              See? No way.

                1. Lilo*

                  I am just saying the “she was desperate” line is garbage. Once you go down that line you can justify all kinds of clearly wrong actions.

                  This is clearly wrong. The other people who needed the job were probably desperate too.

              1. Fortitude Jones*

                There are usually processes in place at law firms (if this is one) to prevent lower level employees from having access to client money. I worked at a mid-sized law firm for nearly three years, did client services type work before moving over into the paralegal side of the house, and I never once had access to client money. Not even when I was generating invoices to submit to them for payment. Not saying this could never happen, but it’s highly unlikely. (And statistics show that management level employers are more likely to commit fraud in the workplace, not receptionists.)

            3. Yorick*

              And if she fudged just a little, it would be more understandable, but this is serious dishonesty if it’s true.

            4. Working Mom Having It All*

              Ehhhhhh, on the other hand, if she’s that desperate, it’s likely that she’s not really asking herself the larger questions about whether she’s actually qualified to do the job. Especially since she’s given the company absolutely no way at all to determine that for themselves.

            5. smoke tree*

              But is Larisa more deserving of the job than another applicant who was more honest about their qualifications? I feel for her if she was driven to do this out of desperation, and I don’t think it necessarily means that she’s a fundamentally dishonest person or that she should be punished severely, but if she falsified her resume on this scale, it was a big risk, and one of the potential consequences is that someone might find out.

            6. The Rules are Made Up*

              I like the phrase “survival dishonesty.” Like when parents lie about their address so their kids can go to a better/less dangerous school. Not to be confused with when wealthy moms bribe institutions and fake SAT scores to get their spoiled kids into schools they didn’t even want to go to, despite having all of the resources for prep schools, tutoring and SAT prep that could’ve gotten them there the old fashioned way. All lies aren’t created equally. Power, resources, privilege, matter.

              A lot of people value employers (who should have the resources and common sense to not screw up their hiring process like this) over the people with the least power; the recently divorced housewives who can’t get a job without experience but NEED a job to get the experience. What makes her more of a “dishonest person” than any other commentator here who I’m sure has lied at some point?

                1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

                  Oh, please.

                  Yes, it’s harder to get a job without a degree. It isn’t impossible. It isn’t as though this is the only job Larissa could possibly have.

          2. Yorick*

            I would for sure not feel comfortable with this. I would definitely tell the manager, allowing for the possibility that she might not have lied and they might already know her real history.

        2. RUKiddingMe*

          There is the small possibility that she didn’t lie about anything.

          1) She actually has the qualifications and her cousin isn’t aware of it.
          2) She doesn’t and the hiring committee is well aware of it but because of XYZ hired her despite the “requirements.”
          3) She does have all the requisite requirements but Cousin has an axe to grind and is stirring up problems.

      1. Jadelyn*

        But the best way to really know your direct report’s actual abilities is to work with them and supervise their work over time, which the manager has been and is presumably doing over the course of Larisa’s employment. My resume didn’t show ANY of what I’m currently doing, when I got hired – but I showed my supervisors that I had, not even necessarily the skills themselves, but the capacity to learn the skills (including teaching myself if needed, all hail the heroes who create and post YouTube software tutorials), and they gave me stretch assignments and growth opportunities based on that. If they’d gone off my resume alone, I’d still be filing and putting together binders.

    2. Alice*

      As a supervisor, why would you factor in info from an employee’s resume instead of using the information from your own observations?

      1. Lilo*

        I would, without hesitation, immediately fire someone who faked an education and ten years experience. You cannot trust someone who fabricates to that degree.

      2. Amber*

        It could factor into how much supervision she would need in taking on new responsibilities. If I think she has 10 years of experience vs no experience, it would definitely change my management style and performance expectations.

      3. President Porpoise*

        Well, for example, say that the person I hire says that she has five years of experience in importing explosives, because she really wants a job in my group, and I work for a defense contractor. Great! I think. This person will help fill knowledge gap, since few of us are familiar with ATF regulations since our stuff is regulated by a different agency!

        We don’t know what a successful ATF program looks like, however, and the hire doesn’t know what she’s doing. She then manages to get us in deep crap with our regulatory agency, and we get our explosives license pulled.

        This isn’t a real example – this has never happened to me or anyone at my company that I know of – but the point is that it is not uncommon to hire to acquire knowledge that is missing from your current shared knowledge set – especially if you’re doing something niche. And it can take a long time to find your gaps, and be very expensive, and shut down your business. THAT is why you might hire on a resume rather than observed skill.

    3. Herding Butterflies*

      I came here to say what President Porpoise said. And that may be why it is desirable to have a degree for this position. Despite all of you saying “she doesn’t need a degree” that is not your call. It is the call of the C-suite, or the hiring manager, or Larissa’s direct manager.

      HOWEVER. Whether Larissa is competent or not is not the question. SHE LIED. Big time. It’s about the ethics and as a manager, I would absolutely want to know.

    4. Fortitude Jones*

      THIS. This is the best argument I’ve seen so far on this thread for why OP she say something to management about Larisa’s lie. If Larisa is eventually promoted to do something she doesn’t know how to do, but what her mythical education/experience should have prepared her to do, and her incompetence causes problems for the department, then this becomes not just a company/Larisa problem, but everyone’s problem. For this reason, OP should say something.

    1. Kathleen_A*

      I recently heard two supervisor-level people here say – flatly and unequivocally – that checking references was a complete waste of time. It’s not my call, and neither one of them takes disagreement well, so I said nothing (though I’m pretty sure they could tell I disagreed). But I thought plenty!

        1. Kathleen_A*

          I know, right? I thought for about 10 seconds about referring them to AAM, but they’re too sure of themselves for what I – or, more importantly, Alison – to make any difference.

      1. Hamburke*

        Although, with many employers refusing to provide references (HR employment verification only, if that) or charging for a reference like that recent letter, the supervisor is not far off. References are getting hard to check approaching impossible.

        I’m playing devil’s advocate here, I still think it should be attempted, but I can see how there’s little perceived value in it when you don’t come away with information so frequently.

        1. MsClaw*

          Yep, that’s how my company works. People can put me on a reference list all they want, but all I can do is confirm I worked with them and refer the person to HR. I’m not allowed to actually give a reference.

          However, a lot of companies do a background check — it seems like this one didn’t, surprising given their line of work — to verify your titles/employers/years match up to reality.

    2. DataGirl*

      I believe there have been stories on this site about people giving fake references by having a friend or family member pretend to be a former boss, so maybe that’s what happened here?

    3. AndersonDarling*

      This is what makes me want to report the issue. It’s more than the employee fabricating their history, if HR said that they checked out all the references and actually did nothing, then that needs to be exposed.

    4. Tinybutfierce*

      My last job didn’t bother with reference checks at all, either (granted it was for a small-corporate retail store). If your employment history on your application looked legit and you came across as alright in an interview, they didn’t bother. I eventually found out the company’s one HR person had zero formal HR training or education, though, so, there’s that.

    5. Goya de la Mancha*

      This was my thought, which leads me to go with Allison’s initial suggestion of just ignoring it. If the supervisor can’t even do BASIC reference checking/due diligence, let them clean up that mess on their own!

    6. Missy*

      Early in my career I worked for a series of businesses that went bankrupt. It was just a bad roll of the dice. I wasn’t smart enough to get the phone numbers of my supervisors so about ten years of experience can’t be confirmed except through tax documentation or a background check.

  5. Dreamer*

    This goes against what Alison said but I would not say anything (especially since she is doing a good job). I would find it weird that Larisa’s cousin, A) did all this research based off of context clues on FB to find where Larisa works B) Reach out to a current employee to tell all C) send screenshots. All this in most likely in hopes of Larisa being fired, during an assumablie hard time in her life ( Recent Divorce, and first time she probably ever been forced to take care of herself)

    Seems like too much Drama. I would absolutely not want to involve myself in. Especially if Larisa is a good employee in a what sounds like near entry level position.

      1. KHB*

        Josie doesn’t sound terribly invested in it to me. She noticed a couple of posts on Facebook, and she had a conversation about them with her friend.

        1. Dreamer*

          The posts did not state a work location, she used clues to figure it out (including calling a friend nearby ) Why not just ask? Why send screenshots of social media? I think there is some deeper family drama going on. Also if the cousin isn’t close enough to ask Larisa directly where she works, how does she know that she didn’t complete an online degree from local university? or worked part time in the industry?

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Eh, I could see the OP expressing surprise over lunch and saying it didn’t sound like what she was told, and then the cousin following up later with the Facebook posts to say “well, it’s what we were told.”

          2. KHB*

            She knew enough about her friend’s employer to recognize it from a non-specific description. I could probably do the same for some of my friends’ employers. It’s not rocket science.

            And I don’t think anyone’s ruling out the possibility that Josie could be mistaken or not have the full story – which is why OP should take care to make clear that she might be mistaken or not have the full story. But if it does turn out that this is all just a big misunderstanding, that should be clear enough to OP’s manager.

            1. TechWorker*

              Lol I think there’s a large number of commenters who have ruled that out in their heads (Larissa is a definite lying liar who will lie about other things too… type thing)

        2. Jennifer*

          Brought a picture to lunch with a friend, then dug through months-old facebook posts to find “evidence” then screenshot them. Then spilled all the tea about her work history and education to her coworker. She’s running a full-on spy operation and needs to sit down.

        3. Kathleen_A*

          I agree. Maybe this is just because I have a wide range of cousins? Most of them are perfectly nice people but a couple are….well, let’s say I’d be surprised if I found out that they had somehow managed to become account coordinators. I probably wouldn’t do any research since they all live far away, but if one of the problematic ones got this responsible-sounding job in my city…yeah, I’d probably do a little googling, too.

        4. Jules the 3rd*

          She brought a picture to her friend to ask about it, and sent screenshots of the fb posts. Josie sounds pretty invested to me.

          Be cautious OP…

          1. Amber*

            To be fair, she could have easily pulled up the cousin’s picture on her phone via Facebook or some other social media app.

          2. Kathleen_A*

            The OP should be cautious because these are very serious charges. If I found out a friend of mine had hired someone, cousin or no cousin, who’d lied to get the job I’d absolutely tell that friend, and that friend should absolutely tell the supervisor. Then let the supervisor handle it.

          3. Yorick*

            It’s 2019. You can have a passing thought about your cousin, remember “That’s right! I think she’s working at OP’s company! But that seems peculiar, I wanted to ask OP about it” and pull up a photo, all within 5 seconds.

            And I’m guessing OP said, “Are you certain? I’m sure we wouldn’t hire someone without a degree and with a 7-year gap.” So Josie looked at old fb posts she remembered to confirm and then sent screenshots to OP.

            Neither of these take much time or effort. This doesn’t have to be the huge spy operation that some commenters are thinking of.

            1. RUKiddingMe*

              Well some of us have…interesting…family members who don’t know how to stay in their lane.

              Ex: My pos BIL got jailed for DV. He was certain I’d turned him in. It wasn’t me…I would have, but it wasn’t me that time.

              In turn he called the INS on my green card having husband as an “illegal” requiring a visit from a (laughing st the whole story) INS agent because BIL had no life.

              Sure he/we were way legal, but it was still a PITA for us and a waste of government time and resources.

            2. Kiwiii*

              Right — even the searching for fb posts probably wasn’t particularly involved. Just search “Larissa job” or “Larissa experience” or another key word you vaguely remember and there it is.

            3. a1*

              Exactly! I’ve been surprised how some people seem to think this is grade A snooping. It barely takes a thought – just things clicking in your head, and not much effort either.

            4. Bertha*

              Yorick, I was just thinking the same thing. It’s not that hard to find these things out, ESPECIALLY if people are posting their whole lives on Facebook. I recently told a friend I’d made a bunch of posts about a certain topic, I searched for “topic” on my profile and then ten posts came up instantly. Add in taking a screenshot and you are talking literal seconds here.

        5. Parenthetically*

          Hm, I can see it that way depending on how the conversation went, but this was my thought process — If I find out my cousin got a job at a new company after a frustrating job search, MY first instinct is to think, “Oh great! Larisa found something at last, what a relief for her,” even if I am surprised she got a job there. Josie at minimum 1) assumed Larisa wasn’t qualified for the job she was hired for, 2) suspected that she had done something tricksy to get hired, and then 3) rather than keeping those assumptions and suspicions to herself, decided she needed to share them with one of Larisa’s coworkers. I’d at least call that busybody behavior!

          1. Kathleen_A*

            Wow. I cannot disagree more. Why should Josie’s loyalty be to Larisa rather than to her friend, the OP? Why should it be to Larisa rather than the truth?

            1. Parenthetically*

              Why does Larissa’s employment at OP’s company have any impact on OP at all? If Josie hadn’t told OP about Larissa’s background, it’s clear from the letter that OP would never have known about it based on Larissa’s performance.

              And you’re really misreading me if you think I’m saying this is about family “loyalty” or any kind of “loyalty” at all. I’m saying it’s about being overly invested in something that doesn’t affect Josie in any way. Personally, I would just not give a second thought to a relative of mine getting a job at Posh Firm, much less taking the additional steps Josie has taken here. Josie rushed from “Larissa got a good job” to “I Must Tell Someone Larissa Is A Fraud” when I (and I think many others) would have assumed Larissa was qualified for a job she was hired for. Like, isn’t that kind of a basic assumption, that if she got hired they must have believed her to be qualified? If I’m Josie and I find out on Facebook that Larissa got hired as an Account Coordinator at Posh Firm, my thought is going to be, “Huh, cool, good luck to her.” *keeps scrolling*

              1. pamela voorhees*

                I don’t think Josie went to “Larissa is a fraud and I need to get her fired though” — if I have a cousin who has a non-law degree and hasn’t been employed for seven years, and then I found out that she was working at I’m guessing a law firm, I would also be surprised because that’s such a large jump from where she is currently and maybe express that surprise to my friend who also works there. It’s not “HAHA, GOTCHA LARISSA” and more “wow, I’m so shocked she went from nothing to there” — and if I heard “yeah, she interviewed really well and we really liked her” my next thought would be “neat, settles that. Should we split an appetizer?” I honestly don’t see the maliciousness of either OP or Josie — just surprise.

              2. Kathleen_A*

                Well, now, you’re taking a bit of a logical leap here. The OP says Larisa is doing OK so far, but then she’s only worked there five months. Besides, I don’t really care much about Josie’s motivations. All I would care about, were I the OP, would be “Is this something my company – the place that pays my salary – needs to know about?”

                And in my opinion, it is. The question of whether the job requires a degree or not, or requires X years’ experience or not, or requires its applicants to be truthful, isn’t for the OP to answer. It’s for someone higher up in the chain authority. So she should turn over what information she has to her superiors (Alison’s scripts are good), and then let them handle it.

                1. Parenthetically*

                  I don’t disagree that she needs to give a summary of the information that she’s gotten from Josie. I’m just saying that, in my opinion, as she decides what to disclose, she needs to be less credulous of information from someone who’s done quite a bit of unnecessary legwork to undermine Larissa in this new job. I don’t think it’s obvious that Josie has an axe to grind. I just think most people are not going to have this level of investment in their cousin getting a new job, and OP needs to take that into account when she goes to her boss.

                  I would recommend a script with far less detail than the one Alison suggested. “I was having a conversation with a friend and discovered that she’s related to Larissa. She expressed some surprise that Larissa had gotten this position since as far as she knew Larissa had not completed her degree and doesn’t have a lot of work history. I of course assume that we did our due diligence in hiring Larissa and that you know all you need to know about her background, but I thought I’d be remiss not to bring this up.”

                2. Fortitude Jones*

                  @Parenthetically, that’s my favorite script so far. It’s brief, it’s not making value judgements or appearing to be overly probative/gossipy, and it signals, “Please leave me out of this going forward – I’m just passing along what I heard in the event you all didn’t do the requisite background checks here.”

          2. Czhorat*

            This leapt out at me:

            **I’m not worried about the accuracy of the information — Josie sent me screenshots of Larisa’s Facebook posts from around six months ago, complaining about the difficulty of job searching when every job requires a degree, experience, etc. and lamenting that she does not have either.**

            This is more than “I’m surprised she got a job there”. It’s “I’m going out of my way to build a case against her”.

            I’m looking sidelong at both OP and Josie, to be honest; they both seem far too invested in Larissa’s failure.

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              This is what stood out to me too. “Hey, my cousin got a job and it sounds like it’s at your firm! That’s awesome– she’s been looking for a really long time!” is one thing. “My cousin got a job and it sounds like it’s at your firm, but she LIED to get that job and here is all the proof I have taken time to gather!” is another.

              I’m a curious person by nature and I would probably put two and two together (that Larisa lied to get the job), but I wouldn’t go straight for the, “Did you KNOW you hired a liar????” Especially if I wanted my cousin to succeed.

              This is a little fishy.

            2. pamela voorhees*

              Honestly, I would have guessed Josie’s thought process went like this — “Larissa said she’s working at a llama spa, and OP works at the biggest one. What’s that? You have to have a llama spa technician degree? Oh, OP thinks I’m wrong. Well, am I? No, here it is, look, I’m not wrong.” I would have done the exact same thing if I heard one of my cousins was working at a law firm — really? Matt? That doesn’t seem right — yeah, here, look. It’s not that I have it out for Matt, it’s that I would want to show here’s why I even bought this up. If OP isn’t worried about Josie, I wouldn’t be, either.

              1. Kiwiii*

                This! The summary of the exchange probably sounds much more matter-of-fact than the conversational exchange likely was.

              2. Avasarala*

                Agreed. If someone posts a lot about their life, it could even be back-to-back posts like
                March 4
                Ugh job hunting is so hard with no degree!
                March 18
                Rejected from another job. Every place wants 2+ years of experience and I can’t even meet that :(

                Screenshot that and send it to OP.
                Of course it could be more snooping and involved and fake, but that’s pretty speculative at a level that is unlike you, Czhorat.
                It could also be “huh that doesn’t sound like Larissa” and scrolling on your phone.

            3. Curmudgeon in California*

              Yeah, and screenshots can be faked. Easily.

              I really wonder about Josie and if she’s really Larissa’s “cousin”, or if she’s Larissa’s Ex-spouse’s new squeeze.

              1. Fortitude Jones*

                That’s also a possibility. I thought Josie might be a cousin because she was the ex’s cousin, thereby making her Larisa’s cousin by marriage.

          3. Jennifer*

            Same. “Larisa is newly divorced and was struggling. Good for her for finding something so she can support herself.” would be my only thoughts. What kind of person goes straight to “I need to get her fired!” after knowing someone was struggling to find work for so long? A busybody.

            1. Czhorat*

              And screenshots old FB posts to *prove* that she should get fired!

              There’s more to this story than we see here.

            2. wittyrepartee*

              Meh, but if it was my best friend’s work… I’d be worried about losing a friend over not telling her.

              1. Parenthetically*

                A couple people have said stuff like this and I admit I’m very confused about it.

                Serious question: let’s say we go back in time and Josie decides to keep her mouth shut and assume Larissa was hired because her bosses thought she could do the job. Months later it comes out that Larissa DID lie on her resume and she gets the sack. What possible impact could that have on Josie and OP’s friendship? OP didn’t know Larissa and Josie were even related until Josie initiated this conversation about Larissa being unqualified, thus she has no reason to think Josie had insider knowledge about Larissa’s background.

                Genuinely. If a relative of yours was unemployed, recently-divorced, and lamenting the stringent requirements for entry level jobs, and then six months later landed a good job at a nice company, would your immediate impulse be to suspect that she wasn’t qualified for that good job and then go to some lengths to prove it? Or would it be to say “mazel tov” under her status update and then go scroll through Instagram for a minute?

                1. Kathleen_A*

                  Wouldn’t it kind of depend on the relative? If my cousin Leia who has had many serious health problems, been on disability for years and had some serious financial issues landed a nice job, I’d say, “Yaaaay! Leia must be doing much better! Good for her!” But if my cousin Luke who stole money from our blind, 85 YO grandmother’s savings account did so, I would absolutely wonder, “How in the bloody hell did Luke land that job?” And if I suspected that my awful cousin Luke had gotten a job at my good friend’s company…yeah, I just might do a little research.

                  And yes, I totally have cousins like these! :-)

                2. Parenthetically*

                  @Kathleen_A Hahah yes, I can definitely see that! I had that thought a few times — all of us are undoubtedly bringing our experience with functional or… less-functional families to this question. ;)

                  But I dunno, even if Black Sheep Bob landed a highly unlikely job, I don’t know that it’d register in my mind as A Thing I Need To Do Something About.

                3. Kathleen_A*

                  I don’t know that it would ordinarily strike me that way, either…well, OK, it totally would if it were Luke. I mean, the guy stole money from our blind grandmother! :-)

                  But the fact that the black sheep had gone to work for a friend’s company would give me an additional nudge.

              2. Jennifer*

                I guess if it were my best friend, and I knew my cousin could be a little shady, I’d just give her a vague head’s up, but I definitely wouldn’t go to this much trouble to get a new divorcee fired. That way I could be loyal to my friend and also not kick my cousin while she’s down.

              1. Joielle*

                Agreed. Some people have said “What if she’s not Larisa’s cousin?? What if she’s the ex’s new girlfriend??” and like… idk, maybe, but if the information is accurate I don’t think that really matters to the OP.

              2. President Porpoise*

                And to turn the question about – What would Josie gain by telling a close friend an easily verifiable lie? Why burn a friendship over something like that? If Josie has a real beef with Larisa – why not just disclose the details of the real thing so that OP knows who she’s dealing with? It makes no sense for her to maliciously make something up that can be so easily checked, by OP or her boss.

            3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

              I could also see something like:
              Josie: “Hey, my cousin Larissa just started at your company, do you know her?”
              OP: “Sure, she’s doing X, Y, and Z”
              Josie: ” That is so awesome your company gave her a chance. She’s really been struggling. It is so hard for someone without a degree or experience to get a foot in the door!”
              OP: ??????

            4. sunshyne84*

              Right, maybe she came clean in her interview and they decided to take a chance. Or maybe she knew somebody at the company that could vouch for her character. Leave it alone.

              1. RUKiddingMe*

                I didn’t say I would be particularly loyal to a family member. Quite the contrary in fact. Just IME most people are.

      2. Sharkie*

        I don’t think so. If I knew my cousin lied to this extent to get a job at a good friend’s company I would speak up especially if it was a close friend.

        1. Yorick*

          Yes, if I thought my cousin’s huge lie could make something harder for my good friend at work, I’d want to help my friend.

          And it could. Larissa seems to be capable so far, but she may be struggling in ways that nobody knows yet, or may struggle with something later, and it could all blow up in a way that puts more work or more work drama on OP.

          1. Lucette Kensack*

            Totally. I care way more about my good friends than I do about my shady cousins. I would absolutely share something like this with a friend.

          2. Parenthetically*

            “huge lie could make something harder for my good friend at work”

            Serious question: how would Larissa’s lie do this?

            1. Sharkie*

              We don’t know the exact role Larissa is but an example might be invoicing accounts. If Larissa lied and said that she had experience doing that and messed up say the taxes on the invoices that will have major ramifications for the business on the state and federal level. I have been through that and it is not pretty

            2. Kathleen_A*

              Because if something goes wrong with Larisa, and all those lies – assuming they are lies – come to light, if I were the OP I’d feel very bad and very guilty that I had kept my mouth shut. Even if no one else ever knew, I’d feel bad because I’d know I’d been in the wrong. That I’d kept silence when I should have spoken.

            3. Yorick*

              Did you read the rest of my post? If she messes something up at work, it’s a small firm, it could make things really hard for everyone.

            4. Yorick*

              Also, if clients became aware of it, they might not care to work with someone so dishonest and take their business elsewhere.

    1. JessicaR*

      Agreed. OP, you would not know any of this about your coworker if the cousin did not have some kind of vendetta here. I’d consider staying out of it.

      1. Kathleen_A*

        Even if it is a vendetta, Larisa apparently lied and lied and lied and lied. No way should the OP “stay out of it.” It’s not libel if it’s true.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          And if the cousin is lying or exaggerating the truth, by using Alison’s suggested phrasing, OP covers the possibility that the information is not true. It’s not OP’s place to make that determination though.

    2. Yorick*

      This isn’t Josie reaching out to some random employee, they’re friends. And if Josie and OP are even sort of close friends, it wouldn’t take much research at all (if any) for Josie to figure out that her cousin works at OP’s company.

      1. Witchy Human*

        And it could very well have started as innocently as “hey, I think you two work at the same company, small world! Do you know each other?”

    3. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      Ya this seems weird to me too. But some people are honest to a fault and maybe Josie is one of those people. It might not be malicious and just misguided.

      I know I wouldn’t rat out a friend or family member who was going through divorce and finally found a job.

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        Its also possible that Josie knows that her cousin has caused serious issues in the past with her lies and since it could now effect a good friend’s company felt the need to speak up.

    4. Kiki*

      Even if there’s no agenda, sometimes family members have no idea what’s going on with other family members’ careers. I know a lot of my extended family thought I was a deadbeat for a while for no real reason beyond my job not having a flashy-sounding title (I definitely make more money than any of them, but that’s not actually important). There’s the chance that the cousin is actually in the know through all of Larisa’s own Facebook posts, but it’s probably best for LW to approach HR from a place of “you may want to look into this…” rather than “LARISA IS A LIAR!!”

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        My extended family: “You have a PhD? When did that happen?”

        Me: “A million years ago.”

        EF: “That’s like a bachelors degree right?”

        Me: Eye roll so hard I sprained them.

      2. Observer*

        it’s probably best for LW to approach HR from a place of “you may want to look into this…” rather than “LARISA IS A LIAR!!”

        Definitely.

      3. Bertha*

        I know way too much about many people who I am only marginally close with, because they post all their business on Facebook.

    5. Occasional*

      +1 on this.

      Quite aside from the potential family drama, what does OP have to gain from getting herself involved in this situation? Absolutely nothing. It’s up to Larisa’s manager to determine if she is doing a good job – if her performance is good then her history is irrelevant, if it isn’t then she’ll probably lose her job eventually anyway.

      I’ve noticed in these AAM posts that there tends to be a lot of handwringing and clutching at pearls in the comments regarding “dishonesty”. Should people lie? Ideally not. Do people lie? Yes. Even “good people”. All the time. I lie. We all lie. Anyone here who says that they’ve never said something they knew was untrue… is lying. Sometimes we lie out of convenience, sometimes out of fear, sometimes to gain an unfair advantage, and sometimes to overcome an unfair disadvantage. There are thousands of reasons to lie. They are not the same thing, and it’s weird to see them treated that way.

      Even if Larisa has lied to get this job (and we have no way of knowing this), some folks here seem very confident that she’s not only the kind of monster who would lie to get a job following 7 years unemployment and a hard divorce (heaven forfend!) but that this marks her out as fundamentally untrustworthy and an irredeemable villain looking for the first opportunity to clear out the business bank accounts, any client-sensitive data, and even the company Christmas party fund! Oh won’t someone please think of the children, etc.

      Anyway, I’m filing this under “none of my business”.

      1. Amethystmoon*

        Yeah, there is such a thing as a white lie. I’d rather not hurt someone’s feelings, especially at work, then be honest and callous about certain things.

        1. Observer*

          Do you really equate not hurting someone’s feelings over whether their outfit looks good, etc. with faking all of your credentials?

    6. smoke tree*

      On the other hand, it sounds like the cousin is a close friend of the LW, which makes it more complicated. It’s possible she has been burned by Larisa’s dishonesty in the past and wanted to give the LW a heads up. Or it’s possible that this is out of character for Larisa, but the cousin felt ethically obligated to say something to her friend. I’m not sure that it really changes the essence of the dilemma, though, because presumably if the cousin is making this up, that could be easily confirmed.

    7. Observer*

      (especially since she is doing a good job

      You actually don’t know that – she SEEMS to be doing a good job. What’s really happening is a different story.

      A) did all this research based off of context clues on FB to find where Larisa works
      She didn’t “do all this research”. They are cousins and Facebook friends – nothing to “find” or research. And Larissa didn’t just give “context clues”. She posted where she was working.

      B) Reach out to a current employee to tell all
      Except that the current employee happens to be a close friend. So it makes sense that she would tell her about it.

      And, ultimately, none of this matters. The OP has information that is serious and legitimately concerning. If there is family drama over all of this, that’s not the OP’s issue.

  6. Cafe au Lait*

    Oooof. More than anything, OP, your letter illustrates how college degree + experience are barriers of entry when the job doesn’t need either. As you said in the letter, the skills she needs to do her job are ones that she can pick up in the job itself.

    1. Kathleen_A*

      Aaaauuugh, people (not just you, Cafe au Lait) keep saying this, but how can you be so sure? The OP says she’s doing OK so far, but she’s only been on the job 5 months, and we don’t actually know what the job is. The OP presumably knows, but we don’t. Larisa may just be really good at faking it, but that doesn’t mean she will be able to fake it forever.

      1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

        While it may or may not be true for this job in particular, it is true that many companies put barriers of entry on jobs that really don’t need it.

      2. Decima Dewey*

        In my library system, new hires are on probation for the first 6 months. They can be fired for almost anything during probation. After probation is up, it’s harder to fire someone (but not absolutely impossible).

        I’ve worked with a number of weirdos who managed to not be weird until they passed probation. Afterward, full weirdness at work ensued.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Agreed. The job I have is about a step and a half to two steps above entry level. The only hard and fast no bending educational experience they required was a high school degree. Then they added either experience OR additional education to which end of the pay range that you got in your offer letter. That seemed much more reasonable to me – you don’t need a college degree to do what I’m doing, but having it meant I get slightly more per hour (they use an hourly wage) than I would have gotten without the degree.

      1. Kathleen_A*

        But WTO…just because that’s the case for your job, that doesn’t automatically mean it’s the case for Larisa’s job. Sometimes a degree is a perfectly reasonable qualification.

        I can’t help but think there’s a lot of projection going on in this thread.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Kathleen, I agree that there is projection going on both ways in this thread. Personally, I would be uncomfortable with lying about qualifications and experience both in an interview and on a resume. I would be wondering why friend put me in the middle, and would probably say something – along the lines of “I’m not sure of the reasons, but someone I know socially felt the need to make me aware of these pieces of information. I’m not sure what they felt would come of passing this info to me, but I’m also not comfortable knowing and not telling you about it.”
          The degree and experience may just be “wants” or they may be necessary for accreditation or for license purposes. We don’t really know. In that case all we can do is base our own comments off of our personal experiences.

    3. I coulda been a lawyer*

      I once called about a job ad, part time a few hours in the middle of each work day, in a company mail room, because the posting said Masters required, PhD preferred. It had to be a typo, right? Oh no, we only promote from within so everyone must have a Masters degree even to earn $150/week. Downtown. Gee, wonder why they went bankrupt. But it’s an issue.

  7. voyager1*

    There is something else to consider to. Most employers can verify education pretty easily, maybe Larissa was hired without lying at all. If you want to pursue this I might try to verify if she lied about the education first. You either have the degree or you don’t. If she lied about that then yeah maybe start digging into the work experience.

    Also keep in mind the cousin who told you this might have her own reasons for doing all of this.

    1. Jennifer*

      That’s a good point. Maybe whoever sent out the email announcing Larisa’s hiring fudged some of the details to cover their own rear end.

      1. voyager1*

        Maybe.

        My job currently requires a BS however our newest hire doesn’t have one. Her job was being eliminated in a another dept and HR thought with her experience she would do well with us. My manager agreed and hired her. But technically she should have a degree, I would hate to think people thought she lied her way in.

        There is a chance Larissa was hired all along with her life history that the cousin told already all known.

        1. Jennifer*

          I didn’t finish my degree either. I was temping at a company and my boss knew I could do the work. She pulled some strings and helped me get hired permanently. I’d be really annoyed if some cousin took it upon themselves to tell my coworkers that I was *gasp* a drop-out. It just feels so unnecessary and gossippy.

          1. Sharkie*

            The degree isn’t the sticking point here (at my very successful office I am the only person with a 4-year degree), it’s the potentially lying about a whole work history and a degree (dropping out after one semester vs dropping out after 3 years is very different) that is the sticking point

          2. Yorick*

            But did your boss send an announcement saying you had a degree?

            Sure, that announcement could have been a mistake, but I doubt it. If Larissa didn’t lie on her resume, it should be clear that she has only 1 semester of college credits (so about 1/8 of a bachelors degree), and someone shouldn’t confuse that with having a degree.

            1. Jennifer*

              No, but she may have glossed over the fact that I didn’t in conversations with people. In any event, if whoever sent out the email lied about Larisa’s work history, that’s on them, not Larisa.

              1. Yorick*

                But I doubt anyone other than Larisa would have a reason to lie about Larisa’s work history.

                If you’re in HR and you knowingly hired a person without a degree, you just wouldn’t mention one when you introduce them, especially if they’re 32 and have 10 years of (mostly fake) work history that you can introduce them with instead.

                This really isn’t about a degree. You don’t need one to be a good employee in many jobs. It’s about a person completely lying about their qualifications.

                1. Jennifer*

                  It is about a degree. She couldn’t find a job that pays the bills without one. I personally would never do this but I won’t fault someone for doing what they need to do to survive.

                2. Yorick*

                  She absolutely could get a job without lying about having a degree. It might have been less money or less prestigious or whatever. But we all manage to pay our bills without lying.

                  Also, don’t forget that she seems to have lied about many years of work history.

                3. Jennifer*

                  How do you know she could pay her bills without lying? There are many people out there who are grossly underemployed and underpaid who are facing eviction, getting utilities shut off, having to get on public assistance or move in with family because their jobs don’t cover their basic expenses. So no “we all” don’t manage to pay our bills.

                4. Yorick*

                  I’m confused. You yourself said you don’t have a degree but still have a good job, and that you wouldn’t lie about having a degree to get a job. Clearly people without degrees don’t have to pretend to have them?

          1. Sharkie*

            I think this is the point that is being missed in the comments. Yes, there is a potential that Larissa lied about everything and that should be addressed, but her manager might have known her background. It never hurts to present this info.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        The person who sent out an email about my hiring wrote something that was fundamentally incorrect, even though I corrected her after she ran it by me. I also once insisted on submitting a bio of myself with an elevated title because I knew if I didn’t, my team wouldn’t look so hot (I was sent in as a last-minute replacement for someone much more senior). So I don’t put a lot of weight on those types of things. To me, they’re for information and maybe color, they’re not documents of record.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I wouldn’t do anymore research. And while it’s true that cousin may have ulterior motives, OP can present the facts as she knows them and let management make the call. I’m 100% with Alison on this one…one small lie on a resume is not terrible, but it seems as if the entire thing is fabricated. And if all of this is true, it seems the company verified nothing and is another issue that needs to be addressed.

        1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          I’m confused by your question. I didn’t say this particular resume had a small lie. I was agreeing with Alison’s comment:
          “But fabricating an entire work history is in a different category than, say, exaggerating one’s accomplishments or fudging the dates of a past job. “

  8. Lilo*

    LW appears to be an attorney. There could be the argument made that she is ethically obligated to report what she knows. You could call your bar ethics hotline.

    1. Tequila Mockingbird*

      I don’t think you know what you’re talking about. Attorneys have no “mandatory reporting” obligations whatsoever, to anyone. Even if I were a criminal attorney and my client said she was going to murder someone tomorrow, I am *allowed* to report that, but not actually *obligated* to.

      And state ethics hotlines only investigate violations of rules of professional responsibility by attorneys. They do not concern themselves with the (maybe) falsified resumes of clerical staff.

      1. Lilo*

        My uncle’s firm got into some hot water over a paralegal who lied about some things. Based on my work, the standard is higher but I could get in trouble for putting information at risk.

      2. Lilo*

        You’ve accused me of not being a lawyer, but you’re spouting off straigh up wrong information. Many state bars have confidential ethics hotlines, including the one I am admitted in. They issue guidance opinions as well. It’s a great resource, particularly for those in small firms.

      3. Jennifer Thneed*

        Mandatory reporting is SO not the same thing as ethical obligations. Ethics is about what good people should do. Mandatory reporting is about the law.

        The reason we mostly hear the term “mandatory reporting” with regard to children or the vulnerable elderly is because members of some professions are in the position to have unique information about a person’s well-being. After many scandals, people in those professions are no longer allowed to decide whether to report what they learn.

    2. NowAFed*

      Omg, you owe a duty of candor to the court. You’re not obligated to report on anything and everything. Call your state ethics hotline. (Yes, IAAL.)

      1. Lilo*

        I am not saying she needs to be reported to the bar, I am saying that a firm has a duty to their clients to supervise their staff. The fact that the firm appears to have some flaws in their background checks could be a problem, but keeping a staff member with red flags could go very wrong if Larissa ends up causing harm to a client (like did Larissa lie about having ten years experience with docketing systems, does she have access to client trust accounts, and so on).

  9. Liz*

    Something smells really fishy here. Why is the cousin going out of her way to tell you this about Larissa? Also, screenshots are insanely easy to fake. Before taking this to the boss, either friend Larissa yourself or find some way to see her life facebook page and see if you can confirm the screen shots are genuine. This could be a case of your friend trying to ruin Larissa’s life as payback for some slight.

    1. CL*

      How is it going to ruin her life if she can verify her information? If HR has checked her education and work history, then there’s nothing wrong.

      1. mark132*

        The OP mentions that it is a small company (10ish employees). There is a significant chance anything the OP reports doesn’t stay confidential. I would be pissed if I found one of my coworkers questioned my credentials in that way. (Faked or not).

    2. sacados*

      I mean, it could be. But since OP says Josie is a close friend, I would assume that OP knows whether or not Josie is the type of person who would carry out this kind of vendetta.
      And I could see the whole thing happening pretty organically. Josie is facebook friends with her cousin, has been privy to the cousin’s struggle to find work, and now sees that cousin has updated she has a job at XYZ company. Josie thinks, “Hey that sounds like where Close Friend OP works. I wonder how Cousin got hired there, I wouldn’t think she’s qualified enough based on what I’ve heard about the workplace from OP.” So next time they are having lunch together, Josie asks OP about it.
      OP says “yes, Larisa works for us but we were told she has a degree and 10 years experience. There must be some mistake.” To which Josie replies “No look, see, here is the facebook post where Larisa specifically talks about having no degree and no experience, it’s clearly her.”

      And the situation comes out.
      It’s of course not impossible that there is some kind of underlying drama/trying to throw someone under the bus going on. Which is why Alison is telling OP to present this info with the caveat that it may not be true, but this is what I’ve heard, it seems accurate, and if it is true it could be a really big deal so I wanted to let you know.

      1. Yorick*

        Yes, OP would probably know if Josie likes to sabotage people. And might even know about any major beef Josie has with her cousin, even if she didn’t ever realize Larisa-from-work and Josie’s-hated-cousin are the same person.

    3. Just Sayin'*

      Right? I’d be tempted to approach Larissa and say, “Hey, I just found out my close friend is your cousin! Small world, right? Isn’t that (weird/awesome/fill in adjective of choice)? Here’s what she’s saying about you. Don’t know/care if it’s true or not, but you might want to go to your boss and let them know in case this comes back to bite you in the ass.”

      1. Working Mom Having It All*

        THIS IS BRILLIANT.

        Because I promise you, if everyone in Larisa’s life knows she probably lied to get this job, Larisa is not going to be happy to know she has so many connections in common with a coworker who is senior to her.

        Honestly I wouldn’t even lead with the allegations, I’d just say “I was just having lunch with my close friend Josie, who says she’s your cousin! We talked all about you. Small world, huh?” and note Larisa’s reaction.

      2. Johanna*

        I don’t know why the cousins motivation is coming into it at all. If Larissa lied about having 10 years work experience and a relevant degree- that is a pretty bold lie, and that is all on her.

          1. Just Sayin'*

            And yes, if it’s a lie, it’s Larissa’s to clean up. Hence the heads up to come clean, whatever “clean” may be.

      3. Megan*

        If I told my best friend a concern about their new employee, my relative, in good faith, I would not appreciate her running and telling my cousin what I said.

        1. Joielle*

          Yeah, that seems like a dick move. The friend presumably came to OP in confidence, trying to help her out. I wouldn’t turn around and tell Larisa what her cousin said about her. But I am definitely NOT a “blood is thicker than water” kind of person so I might be biased here.

          1. Just Sayin'*

            IMO, a dick move is to give your best friend potentially incendiary info, purportedly to help her company, and then make her mind-read your intentions about how she uses it.

      4. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

        I cannot recommend this course of action. It could be perceived as threatening (even if OP really really really isn’t trying to be threatening) and then who knows what Larissa might do?

  10. Parenthetically*

    Side note: my guess is the comments on this one are going to read like textbook examples of Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies. (I said the situation sucks and it’s dumb that the “right thing” is to grass on someone doing a good job — I’m a Questioner, obviously!)

      1. Parenthetically*

        I come down on the side of telling, too, just with minimal detail because what OP knows *for a fact* is that Josie told her that Larissa doesn’t have a college degree or relevant work experience.

        I also cannot stop cringing at the idea of going into my boss’s office and starting a conversation with “My friend told me that her cousin…”

  11. Clementine*

    I wouldn’t anything based on hearsay (admittedly hearsay that is almost certainly true). Why is this friend so invested in getting her cousin fired? Presumably the Facebook posts were friends-only, so not meant to be disseminated further. I’d let it go.

    1. Lilo*

      If she’s basing it on Josie’s own words (her posts), it’s not hearsay, fwiw, it’s an admission (assuming Josie is the “defendant” in this hypo).

    2. Yorick*

      This isn’t hearsay. Hearsay is something you didn’t observe for yourself, which is not the same as a facebook post in which Larisa says she doesn’t have the qualifications for the job.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        Also, there’s no guarantee that it was actually Larissa making the Facebook posts. Facebook identities get copied and abused all the time – several of my friends have had to post “If you get a friend request from someone claiming to be me, don’t accept it, it’s fake.” to the existing FB friends.

        This whole thing smells like family feuding.

        1. Yorick*

          I think this is too much speculation. If my cousin is posting something about her life circumstances that I’m already aware of, there’s no reason to think it’s not her.

          1. Johanna*

            Exactly Yorick! Who cares about the cousin’s motivation. If Larissa fabricated her entire degree and ten years experience then it’s on her.

  12. Makoto*

    Am I the only one wondering Josie’s motivations for getting her cousin fired? It seems like a strangely vindictive move for a family member.

    1. WellRed*

      I, oddly, got hung up on the fact that the cousin showed her a photo rather than simply asking, “Do you know Larisa Larisa? She’s my cousin.” Something about that just seemed off to me.

      1. juliebulie*

        Now that you mention it, that was a little odd. Maybe she wasn’t sure that Larissa was using her real name! Or maybe Larissa Larissa is a common name in those parts and she didn’t want to impugn the wrong one.

    2. juliebulie*

      It might be vindictive, but it might also be that Josie knows something much worse about Larissa but doesn’t want to reveal it (or doesn’t have proof of it).

      I can envision myself as Josie if I wanted to take care of my friend (by getting a really bad person out of her workplace) but didn’t want to totally destroy my cousin’s life with a nuclear revelation when a small stink bomb would do.

    3. Jenga*

      Agreed! If someone in my family had been “out of work for 7 years” I wouldn’t be pro-actively trying to sabotage her job like that woman is—unless she lied about something that could harm people (falsely claiming to have a medical degree, for example.)

      Surely, if we dig deep enough, we can find plenty of questionable behavior among at least a few family members. Should we start making calls to out them for every discretion? Sounds a bit too much like the USSR to me.

      1. CL*

        Really? Would you be cool with, for instance, your bank teller having access to your financial information if they lied about most, if not all, of the job requirements in order to get there? Maybe they lied because they couldn’t get a job otherwise, but I’d be worried that they lied in order to have access to people’s private information, or confidential company information.

        1. Jenga*

          To: CL – I think I was pretty clear about speaking to someone lying about education, specifically—when its used to screen out things and people that have NOTHING to do with the ability to do the job. Does completing a college degree make a bank teller more *trustworthy* with financial info? Um, no. Neither does being a Christian or being French or coming from an Upper Middle Class family in the suburbs. Hence, my point about demanding non-relevant qualifications for some jobs. Meanwhile, I was also clear about making an exception where someone lies about something that could *harm* people. Claiming you are licensed to drive a big-rig truck could lead to being getting killed on the freeway. Same with lying that you have a medical degree and performing plastic surgery. And so on. If I knew a family member was putting lives at risk, I’d run to out them in less than a heartbeat.

      2. The RO-Cat*

        It depends on the level of egregiousness of Larissa’s behavior with family. Some things may seem little irks, but add up to a worrying trend – or worse. “Cousin” is sometimes used as a shorthand for “some member of extended family”, so ties can be really loose (it’s unwieldy to say “Larissa is uncle Joe’s niece from his first marriage to Louisa, who had Larissa with her first husband but uncle Joe adopted her”) and can certainly be way weaker than close friendship. And sometimes a family feud can unearth impulses deeply buried but once out there there’s no unseeing. All that is to say the situation is plausible without introducing nefariousness in the picture.

    4. Tinybutfierce*

      It didn’t really seem suspect to me. I’m not close with my extended family, but I do have a cousin who’s been in trouble with the law repeatedly, taken advantage of other family members in awful ways (like stealing his mother’s bank card and emptying her account), and is just generally a really crummy person. If I found myself in a position like Josie claims, where I found out this cousin was working with someone I considered a good friend and their hiring seemed suspicious to me, I’d definitely give my friend a heads up. Maybe Josie has more information she (or the OP) didn’t share here that would give her more reason to think Larissa isn’t totally on the level here.

  13. QCI*

    What’s it say about the job and your requirements if someone with none of the education or experience you asked for can apparently do the job satisfactorily?

    1. juliebulie*

      If anything good comes out of this situation, I hope it’s that the company will seriously rethink their job requirements. It really does suck to exclude candidates for stupid reasons.

    2. T. Boone Pickens*

      Yup came here to say this. OP’s company comes across as completely incompetent in terms of hiring. How is it a person who according to the cousin basically walked in off the street has managed to successfully skirt past OP’s HR? Honestly I’d be more inclined to fire HR for being wholly incompetent versus Larisa.

      1. Don*

        Incompetent and kinda gross, based on OP’s comment that they couldn’t imagine their employer hiring someone with that long an employment gap. Way to discriminate against moms and people with health/family issues.

      2. Fortitude Jones*

        Yeah, HR at this company needs a total overhaul of degree requirements are in fact set in stone and not just a wish list item.

  14. Czhorat*

    Why should this matter to the OP, or anyone else?

    The person was hired and is, so far as we can tell, competent at her job. There is no apparent harm in her remaining there, while there IS harm in getting her fired. There’s also a risk to the OP’s reputation if they’re perceived as leading a witch-hunt against a competent and solid employee.

    Whenever there’s a question of escalating something, one of the questions I like to ask is what you want to have happen. Is your goal to get Larissa fired? If so, why? If not, then why risk that result?

    1. WellRed*

      But if she did lie, fabricating a work history, that really calls into question her integrity. That’s kind of a big deal. It’s something, once learned abut a person, that you can’t unlearn.

        1. pleaset*

          I suspect I’d have less integrity if was out of work for a long time and likely to be homeless.

          I’ve never been in such a situation and my integrity, so far, has been impeccable.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Lots of people are in very hard situations and do not make up 10 years of work experience. Most of them, in fact.

            I’m sympathetic to Larisa’s situation, but not to fraud.

          2. Myrin*

            I might be missing something but I’m not seeing anything about homelessness in the letter – the only vaguely relevant detail I see is that Larisa had been “supported by her husband’s income, but began job searching after they divorced earlier this year” but that doesn’t mean she was on the brink of homelessness (in fact, my own mother was in that very same situation, only older, 13 years ago, and while there were many issues, homelessness wasn’t one of them in the slightest).

          3. mark132*

            I have a family to feed, so I know where you are coming from. But doing something like this (ethics aside) is playing with fire. Everything is so interconnected nowadays and just getting more interconnected that it’s increasingly easier to get caught.

          4. Eirene*

            I literally ran out of unemployment insurance the week before I started the job I have now. I would have been totally hosed if I hadn’t been hired by my company. I have an associate’s degree, which to the professional world means absolutely nothing. I was quite desperate for work by the time I landed this job, which normally does require a bachelor’s degree, but I was applying to stuff left and right in the hopes that someone would look at my work experience and think that I would be a good candidate regardless.

            Not once did I ever consider lying about having a bachelor’s or adding in work experience that I do not possess.

      1. Czhorat*

        TO an extent, yes.

        I can see her justifying it to herself as doing what needs to be done to get a clerical job for which she is qualified, even if she can’t prove it on paper. AS others have said, she’s reacting to a set of requirements out of step with what the job really needs.

        It is very likely that this is the only thing she’d lie about.

        1. Amber*

          I don’t think we can know whether or not it’s likely this is the only thing she has or will lie about. That’s why I’m leaning toward telling the boss, using the recommended script, in case other lies to come to light.

        2. Witchy Human*

          What if she gets starts under-performing at the job, and she needs to lie to keep it?

          Is she going to let someone else take the fall for a major mistake? Make false accusations of discrimination or harassment? Lie about medical needs?

        3. boo bot*

          “It is very likely that this is the only thing she’d lie about.”

          I think this is probably true, in the absence of information that would indicate otherwise. People are tricky, and one major lapse in judgement doesn’t mean you’re going to commit another one – someone who lies to get out of a desperate situation might live the rest of their life in perfect honesty; someone who’s been pure of heart for 30 years might start opening fake bank accounts and credit cards in customers’ names if it’s the only way to meet their sales goals.

          On the other hand, some people lie about everything, all the time, just because they think lying is fun.

          So, it’s murky waters. Personally I wouldn’t say anything. If she were working as an engineer, or an electrician, or a doctor or nurse, or anything where a lack of proper training could put bridges and people at risk, then I’d definitely bring it up. But it sounds like she’s doing the job competently. I wouldn’t back her up if she asked *me* to lie, but if I just had some secondhand information, I wouldn’t feel moved to report it.

        4. Herding Butterflies*

          How do you KNOW the requirements are out of step with the job. I am a small firm. While I need clerical help immediately, what I need 1) six months from now is someone to revamp how we do our timesheets and find and purchase new software to do so, 2) in nine months to help renegotiate our health insurance, 3) in one year, to rewrite our our employee manual and set up a formal HR department, and oh btw, throughout all of this, track our billings and cash flow. A business or HR degree may be desirable!!!!

        5. Observer*

          No, it is extremely likely that this is NOT the only thing she’d lie about. The patterns are pretty consistent. Liars tend to lie.

          If she’s so desperate, then she is going to continue to be desperate – to keep the job, to make sure she can get another job, etc.

      2. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

        I don’t think someone taking desperate action to get a job is the huge red flag everyone is saying it is, though. Could it be an indicator that she is a super dishonest person who can’t be trusted? Possibly. But isn’t it more likely she just lied because she couldn’t find a job and needed to survive after the divorce? And therefore won’t be a thief or embezzler or pull shenanigans because she just needed a job and now she has it?

        I think the most likely scenario is she lied because she needed work and that she wants to do well and prove herself because she wants to live up to the lie she told.

        1. Czhorat*

          Jean Valjean was a thief. He took what didn’t belong to him without paying for it, so Jalvert was absolutely correct to pursue him.

          1. Heidi*

            Valjean also refused to lie by allowing another man to go to prison for him, which shows that there was line he wouldn’t cross. What Larisa did (allegedly) seems to be somewhere between stealing bread and letting someone go to prison for a crime they didn’t commit, which is probably why the responses are so mixed. Perhaps the concern is that the line she won’t cross is nowhere near where we thought it should be.

        2. Yorick*

          She couldn’t be a server or cashier? She was so desparate for work for survival that she had to have this office job that required her to lie about a degree and 7 years of work history?

          1. MillennialPunk*

            A lot of server or cashier jobs anymore ask for a degree and 3-5 years of experience. It’s bonkers.

          2. EventPlannerGal*

            It’s actually not that easy to just walk into retail or service jobs with minimal or very outdated experience. A lot of them do ask for minimum years of experience or even for degrees. There are also often practical skills that you need to be able to demonstrate right off the bat or at least pick up very quickly, and there’s a lot of competition from college kids willing to work for spring break money. For a reasonably smart adult who knows their way around MS Office, it really might be easier (and more appealing) to convincingly fake their way through an office job than to earn an actual living as a server.

            1. Yorick*

              Well, sure, it would be way more appealing to me to lie my way into a six figure job that I’m not qualified for, but I have integrity so I didn’t

        3. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

          She absolutely should not have lied. I am not arguing that what she did was ok. I am saying it is understandable and might not mean she is a lying liar who lies about everything all the time.

          Larisa was wrong.

          But based on the info OP has provided, I am not convinced, were I in this situation, that I would out her to management. “It is hard finding a job” doesn’t mean she is unemployed. It can mean a better job than what she has. None of the posts, according to OP, said “I don’t have a job.”

          As I said above, I would be doing more investigation. I’d try and see what HR knows / how much due diligence they did. I’d try and find out from Larisa’s supervisor what her performance really is. Because this is a hefty allegation to levy and even though it would be her own actions that led to her losing her job, I know I would still carry guilt about it should she get fired because I outed her.

          1. TechWorker*

            I also don’t think OP has the concrete proof she thinks she does. The blurb sent out by HR *could* have been reworded from accurate information (‘attended x university (‘09) and then worked for y company’ becomes ‘graduated from x and has 10 years of experience!’). Is that likely? Maybe not. But I don’t think it’s particularly less likely than the worst case scenario where Larissa is an inveterate liar who is going to steal from the company.

        4. hamsterpants*

          If she’s lying to GET a job, who’s to say she won’t lie to KEEP her job? “She’s desperate for money and will lie and cheat to get it” shouldn’t make anyone feel warm and cozy about her professional integrity.

      3. Kiki, Esq.*

        I’d also point out that OP’s use of “associate” and “firm” lead me to believe this is a law firm. In most firm structures, associates are agents and owe a fiduciary duty of loyalty (among other fiduciary duties) to the firm. In that case, I’d argue that OP not only should, but MUST report what she knows about the apparent fabrication of Larisa’s resume. If Larisa is responsible for client outreach, that means she likely knows and works with confidential information about firm clients. Larisa’s willingness to lie about her professional qualifications raises serious concerns about her ethical boundaries, which in turn raises questions about how ethically she handles confidential client information on behalf of the firm. OP has a duty to pass what she knows up the chain of command as soon as possible.

        1. September Sally*

          I immediately also thought law firm but I know that is not necessarily the case. If this person did fabricate her history to that extent, presumably out of desperation with not being able to find employment, what else will she resort to when push comes to shove further down the road? She becomes backed up with work so cuts corners that cost the company? Breaches information? Steals money because she still isn’t able to make ends meet and she has access to accounts? Lies about completing essential tasks by deadlines? There are just so many situations that someone could ruin the reputation of the firm or cause detrimental harm to clientele if they are the type of person that would lie out of desperation. I’m on team Say Something all the way.

        2. NotAnotherManager!*

          I had missed this on first read, but, if it is a law firm, that does change my opinion on the matter from MYOB to report, particularly if OP is a lawyer and not staff. Law firms typically take lying very seriously because of ethical obligations of the profession. They may also have staff qualifications laid out in client agreements that specify work will be done by someone with a particular degree or qualification (for billable staff). Whether or not one agrees with those requirements, law firms fall firmly into the land of academic snobbery and require a degree unless you’re one of four people in the world who has your specialized and marketable expertise or something. Frankly, I’m surprised a law firm DIDN’T run a background check.

          I had to pull a job offer for an entry-level worker a year ago because they lied about completing their degree. It showed up on their final degree verification report a few weeks before they were supposed to start, and HR pulled their offer immediately and then notified me. For them, had the candidate called to let us know about the delay in conference, we probably could have worked something out, but they were entirely unwilling to deal with dishonesty.

      4. Tinybutfierce*

        Yeah, and the size of the (potential) lie is what really gets me. She didn’t say she’d graduated when she was only a semester or a few credits short, she didn’t fudge details of one job or a short period of time she was out of work; she lied about an entire collegiate education and seven YEARS of work history. I 800% agree with those who say that degree and experience requirements for entry level positions are very, VERY often BS and prohibitive to those who are already less-privileged. But if I found out something like this about a coworker, and did confirm it was true, it would nuke any trust I had in them at all, professionally or otherwise.

    2. Amber*

      I do wonder what would happen though if eventually, the boss does find out (assuming Larissa did lie) and that the LW knew.

      1. Czhorat*

        Nothing?

        First, there’s no way to know that the LW knew. Second, the LW isn’t part of the hiring team; they’re just another employee. It isn’t their responsibility to perform background checks on new hires.

        1. CL*

          If I found out that one of my reports knew that a sub lied about their experience, I would have to write them up, at the very least. What we pay is based on a sub’s education level (our district actually requires the sub to submit written proof of any and all degrees), so it would be fraud at the very least. If it was something more serious (like, that there was something in their history that meant they shouldn’t be around students), it could get my report fired.

          1. Jennifer*

            How would you find out? The cousin doesn’t work there. Everything that has happened took place outside of work.

            1. Curmudgeon in California*

              What would an opposing lawyer in a wrongful termination suit have to say about it?

              Trewad carefully, IMO.

          2. mark132*

            to quote Sgt Schultz “I know NOOOTTTHING”. Actually seriously OP “knows” nothing. She merely has a report.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          If I found out someone I managed knew about something this serious and didn’t tell me, it would absolutely affect what I thought of their judgment and reliability. If I had been considering them for more responsibility, it would give me serious pause. Especially in a small organization.

          1. Kathleen_A*

            Absolutely. Hiring isn’t my responsibility (thank God), but there’s *no way* I could live with myself if I heard information potentially this damaging to my company and did not pass it along to someone higher up the chain and let them decide what to do about it (even if what they decide to do is nothing). And I would seriously question the judgment of anyone else if they knew this and told no one.

            The job may or may not require a degree. It may or may not require X years of experience. But that’s not my call to make, and it’s not the OP’s call either. And anyway, without knowing anything else about it than the little the OP has supplied, I am sure it requires a certain amount of truthfulness.

          2. msjwhittz*

            Alison, would it make a difference to you how the employee learned this information? I have to say, I would be pretty skeptical if someone brought in something a friend told them (rather than, say, the employee seeing a post on Larisa’s facebook page themself.) This is such a weird situation I admit it makes me nervous for the OP’s reputation if she does bring it up with her superiors.

          3. TechWorker*

            Where is the line between this and gossip though? OP has some ‘proof’ but hardly irrefutable proof, and in that situation I would be tempted to assume I didn’t have the whole picture. I guess it might depend on my relationship with Larissas manager, but presumably as a manager you don’t assume reports will bring you all gossip just incase it’s true?

            1. Kathleen_A*

              You wouldn’t have the whole picture. The OP doesn’t have the whole picture. But the good news is: She doesn’t need to have the whole picture because this isn’t her call to make. She doesn’t have to decide if Larisa has told the truth or not, or if Larisa needs X years of experience or Y amount of schooling. Alllllllll of that is her superior’s responsibility. The OP should just turn over the plain information – doesn’t have to be detailed, doesn’t have to accuse Larisa of anything – to her superiors and then butt out and let them handle it.

        3. pleaset*

          No way. I’m very conflicted about reporting this, but if the manager finds out the OP knew and didn’t report it, it’s likely there will be serious problems for the OP. If the OP is a lawyer, very serious.

          1. Lilo*

            She could be risking discipline from the bar, for sure (troubling, if this is a law firm, if they are failing to bet people).

    3. Spek*

      This. It’s a clerical job. She’s not performing heart surgery. She gamed the system. Seems like it’s working out for everybody.

      1. Heidi*

        That triggered a memory for me. Does anyone else remember that subplot on “ER” where Mare Winnigham was hired to be the ER chief and turned out to not be a doctor at all? She stole the identity of a real doctor with the same name. Apparently, she was doing a good job as a doctor while she was there.

    4. Spek*

      This. It’s a clerical job. She’s not performing heart surgery. She gamed the system. Seems like it’s working out for everybody.

      1. Amber*

        But where is the line drawn between jobs you can lie about 10 years of experience with and jobs you can’t?

        1. voyager1*

          Better yet, how would you feel her gaming the system and her getting a promotion over you, especially if experience and education are factors in consideration.

              1. Close Bracket*

                Well, yes, you can ask them about their experiences at that company and use “tell me about a time” questions. If they’ve prepared really well and can give good examples, that’s where background and reference checks come in.

            1. That Would be a Good Band Name*

              You can’t out-interview someone who has the magical unicorn of qualifications, which is what someone who is fabricating their background is going to have.

      2. cg*

        Working out for everybody…except maybe the other applicants for her job? Who might have been more experienced and equally desperate for work, but with (truthful) resumes slightly less impressive than the one Larissa concocted?

      3. Missy*

        Clerical jobs can often be ones where employees, especially ones who are unethical, can do a lot of damage. I would have a much easier time embezzling funds back when I was a secretary than I would now as an attorney. Because I don’t have any connection at all to the billing/accounts side currently, while previously I would be handling lots of money every day.

  15. WellRed*

    “I’m personally really frustrated at this, since I took out loans and studied hard to get my degree only to wind up with a coworker who claimed to do the same without any of the work.”

    I know this is frustrating, but this type of thinking is never productive and could make you more frustrated. You are better off for having the degree, if not at this job, at the next, or because it gave you the opportunity to study new things/meet new people etc. that you otherwise might not have.

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      Degrees seem to give
      1) A wider view that helps you see big pictures and
      2) About the same amount per degree year of transferable knowledge as 2 – 5 years work (eg, my undergrad gave about 2 years’ worth transferable knowledge per undergrad year; the MBA was close to 5)
      3) Networking

      1. WellRed*

        You said this so much better than me. yes to all of it.

        Don’t envy or feel resentful of the Larisas of the world. Nothing takes away that education.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          Exactly. And why would you envy somebody who has to lie to get ahead? That just means she’ll have to keep lying for the rest of her life to keep up with the initial lies told, and eventually, truth comes to light.

    2. Delphine*

      +1

      Look at the lengths Larisa felt she needed to go to to get hired and how difficult the job market is for people without degrees and with little recent experience.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This is very much true.

      In the end, you are in a better spot throughout life with the choice to do things the “right” way. You don’t have to lie, you don’t have to live with the idea that you may get caught, you don’t have people like this cousin who are trying to upend you because of your shady ways. So in reality, she cheated the system, she got somewhere that she shouldn’t be and that stinks but it doesn’t mean that you’re not going to still come out ahead in the end with your degree or your real experience that you’re drawing upon as you go through life.

      We could all go start scamming but then we’d have to live with ourselves but there’s a reason why the majority don’t do it. It’s because we have morals and ethics, not having those driving forces is a pretty awful tradeoff!

    4. Jennifer*

      As I said above, I told the truth about not having a degree and get a job that previously required one. I think they changed the requirements later. I disagree with this point of view. There are a lot of ways to acquire experience and widen your world view. I wouldn’t appreciate it if someone was resentful of me because I managed to get the same job they did without having a degree. If anything, they should be resentful that so many companies require degrees for jobs where you aren’t really going to use them.

      1. TurboVicki*

        Thanks for saying this. I also do not have a degree and have not once lied about it. Now, I do have 12 years of experience, and finding a job is no longer difficult for me, but the assumption that degree-less people are inherently less deserving is…a bummer! If anything, we have to work a lot harder to get our collective feet in the door.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Hear hear.

        Be resentful of the establishment of these things put in place to make the playing field less even for everyone involved.

        I’m resentful of the idea that university is for everyone and that anyone worthwhile needs to jump through their crazy hoops, not just financial ones. The maze of even trying to test drive a path towards that college degree when I’m finally old enough to pay for it out of pocket and not rely on my parents financial information that they require straight out of high school has been emotionally the most difficult thing in my life, no joke.

  16. Jenga*

    First and foremost, I want to be clear that I do NOT advocate falsifying information as a means to getting a job. That said…

    Concerns raised by a prior commenter here did give me pause. I absolutely do see how requiring an education qualification absolutely unnecessary for certain jobs functions as a defacto form of discrimination (social class, race, etc.) Not all those groups, like socio-economic, are “protected” legally from discrimination, which others could be very hard to prove. Nevertheless, somehow we made it through the 20th Century with millions of highly competent secretarial and other clerical staffers excelling in their work, sans degrees. From a MORAL standpoint, I think this is absolutely the wrong way our country should be going.

    If it was a person being asked about their religion—also not relevant to work competency—and they knew that, say, Jews would not be hired… and, if Jewish, they decided to lie in order to protect their employment prospects and on-the-job discrimination, I wouldn’t think they were unethical for not giving information to a discriminator. That has nothing to do with what the law allows or not. If there were no legal protections at all, for those of a particular religion (just as there are no protections for someone based on education level), I would still feel the same.

    Of course I would feel that way if it were a position that demanded a particular education or training to succeed in the role (medical doctor, electrical engineer, etc.)

    I’m NOT excusing the liar here, and DO agree those things are seriously concerning in this particular case.

    1. Jenga*

      *I meant to write in my above comment: “I would NOT feel that way if a position demanded a particular education or training to succeed in the role (medical doctor, electrical engineer, etc.)”

    2. Future Homesteader*

      I see your point, and I think we do need to rethink how we train/decide who is good for which jobs and do something about degree inflation. But I don’t think your analogy works. While one’s education and work experience is not by any means a perfect proxy for how someone will do in a job, it is at least somewhat related. Religion has literally nothing to do with it. We absolutely need to be more conscious about how a particular education, etc. fails as a proxy for competence and ends up reinforcing power structures and depriving marginalized groups of opportunities. But saying degrees are worthless for all but a few and likening degree requirements to religious discrimination isn’t helpful, in my opinion.

      1. Jenga*

        To Future Homesteader: We seem to be in agreement in some of this. But you mischaracterize what I said and intended. I never said anything at all like “degrees are worthless for all but a few.” The very specific context was low-skill level clerical roles (which of course does NOT include highly skilled executive assistants and the like)—and I note that not at all diminishing the importance of what any employee needs to bring to do well in such roles.

        A great receptionist needs to have a great public-facing presentation and personality, clear speaking voice, effective communication skills, a thorough knowledge of a company’s divisions and officers, etc. They do NOT need a Bachelors degree—or the tens of thousands in student debt that often come with having achieved that. Throughout the whole 20th Century in America, university degrees were not demanded as a qualification for filing clerks, typists, non-exec level secretaries, etc.

        If you don’t believe that artificial—or rather, non-relevant—barriers are deliberately put in place to weed out specific groups of people, for reasons that have everything to do with discrimination and nothing to do with skills and competancy… I would concur that you either haven’t personally been impacted by that, or you aren’t looking deeply enough into how things are shifting in this day and age.

        (I myself have a Masters degree, so I’m theoretically all for getting as much education as one can—in principal. But *requiring* people to get into deep debt for a qualification irrelevant to their job and career? No.)

      2. Jenga*

        To Future Homesteader: I think we’re somewhat in agreement, But…

        You miscaracterize my words and intent. I never said anything like “degrees are worthless for all but a few.” As someone with a Masters degree, I’m all about education, and encourage people to get as much as they can afford and need (and of course, one can learn as lifelong practice without being at a university, by reading, training, traveling, etc.)

        Something being *unnecessary* isn’t the same as it being “worthless.” To be a great receptionist, one needs to have a good professional self-presentation and communication style, a clear speaking voice, a thorough knowledge of a company’s dynamics and hierarchies, some knowledge of security and emergency procedures, etc. It’s an important position, being the face of the company, but it doesn’t need a college degree to excel in the role. Same with being a filing clerk, a non-exec level secretary, etc.

        If you don’t understand how the inflating of qualification demands serves as a de facto screening to keep out certain groups of people (some protected classes, others—like social class, for example—not) then I imagine you either have been fortunate not to experiences such discrimination personally, or you’re not seeing the real shift that has been happening in our country in recent years—which I believe are to our detriment.

        This relates especially to fields that now all-but require not just the degree (which may be actually relevant) but also limit entry to entry level jobs to those who’ve done lengthy (6 months to a year) of UNPAID full time internships. Young undergrads who don’t come from affluent parents footing their bills have enough trouble finding jobs to cover their bills while also taking required classes. They can’t ALSO take on massive amounts of unpaid work. Proof that succeeding in these roles doesn’t need an internship first? Well… none of them did until the past decade or 2—and somehow American businesses did just fine with taking on young grads and training them—while also paying them. (Are internships great? Sure. They can be! Paid internships, short-term 2 month summer ones, 5-10 hours a week ones—if one can afford them or student aid covers the credit hours.

        1. Engineer Girl*

          But inflating qualifications HARMs those same people. Anyone that has actual achievements will always be questioned if they are real because others have lied.

          People who falsify resumes are:
          Undermining those that actually worked for their achievement
          Stealing opportunity from those that actually worked for their achievements.

          I said this farther down. But those who haven’t worked for the achievements often severely dismiss the work that it took to get there. It’s a form of Dunning Kruger.

          1. Jenga*

            Again, I’m making a “side note” point, regarding an issues this post raised—separate from the (we can all agree) noted problem of someone falsifying info. The issue that employers are creating a terribly discriminatory scenario where thousands, even millions, of Americans are forced to go into deep debt to qualify to apply for jobs where that education is not needed and irrelevant. Or, the same thousands or millions are otherwise denied opportunities in jobs that have always been done and can indeed be done without that education. If the choices are: Get $20,000 in debt for unneeded degrees OR lie about ones education to be hired for something one can excel in regardless… that’s an awful burden to put on people with little benefit for employee or employer.

            1. Engineer Girl*

              Your argument is what is know as a black and white fallacy. It assumes there are only two choices when there are many choices.

              You do NOT have to take on a $20,000 debt to get a job.

              You can cash flow your way through school (I did, it took 6 years to get a 4 year degree)

              You can go to trade school.

              There’s more scholarships now than there ever have been before

              You can enter the armed services and get your education that way (that’s how my Dad did it).

              In short, you can’t justify lying on a resume.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Yet as someone who grew up with parents that were laborers, without the luxury of college being at my finger tips or even an option due to the tragedy that is the requirement that families give their financial information over, even though they aren’t going to ever assist with paying for higher education, ever. Who has climbed the ladder and gotten where I am despite that very huge hurdle.

      I still don’t see any justification to this kind of awful lying and fraud. These people cheapen those of us who did beat the odds, we all look like “oh well who did you lie to to get where you are?” just as bad as the assumption of women who have “slept” their way to the top in the end to be honest.

      1. N-SoCal*

        So much this.
        The situation is fraud. Period.
        Deception was used for personal gain.
        The company didn’t lie, or force her out of school. She did that.

        Discussion on the topic of what qualifications are needed of the role distract from the real issue – it doesn’t serve well as an explanation for bad behavior.

      1. Jenga*

        You’re not getting the analogy. Just like religion is not relevant to how well a person does in a clerical job, neither is a university edication. Raising the level of educational requirements for jobs that absolutely do not need them acts as a barrier and mode of discrimination for all kinds of otherwise perfectly capable and competent people—people who, throughout the 20th Century, did very well in such positions (underscoring what is unnecessary and unfair in “requiring” something irrelevant.) Being a Buddhist, being German, being Middle Class—just like having a college degree—should not be required where a degree has no relevance or impact whatsoever on skill and ability. It never did before and should not now.

        *If you see this bit missed my earlier comment to this post, I’ll just note again that none of this in anyway excuses lying or committing fraud. I’m addressing the scenario by where irrelevant or unnecessary requirements unfairly bar good people from employment opportunities.

    4. 'Tis Me*

      To extend that analogy (with the understanding that the discrimination is not as clear-cut as anti-Jewish hiring laws would be, and e.g. in this instance the person in question did have the opportunity to go to college so it may not even apply to her although we don’t know why she dropped out, or so early on) – this is more like instead of replying “non-practicing Christian” or “Agnostic” or something else neutral – she declared herself to be a practicing Catholic, and listed false references to confirm her 10 year history of weekly attendance, flower arranging, playing the organ and teaching hymns to the Sunday School choir. The first bypasses the discrimination; the second is complete large-scale fabrication complete with possibly roping in other people to lie further for her. (We don’t know if they checked her references but presumably she was prepared to produce some…)

      1. Jenga*

        It’s presumptious, IMHO, to presume that the person in question had any such “opportunity to go to college.” My whole point was to point out that millions of people do NOT have such opportunities. We don’t want them doing brain surgery or being entrusted with a nuclear fission program. But there’s no reason that lack of credential makes them not able to file papers or answer phones (the reverse is of course true, too. having an education doesn’t mean one can automatically do such things well either.)

        My point was that discrimination comes in many forms—forms not always ensconced in law (weight/size discrimination is one example.)

        As for where you believe that my example better represented a “complete large-scale fabrication complete with possibly roping in other people to lie further for her,” rather than naming a different religion not discriminated against, I see it the opposite. Saying she is a degree-holder IS analogous to saying one is a (whatever religion or group.) The woman didn’t say “I’m a college graduate and while in school here’s all the classes I took and the grades I got and the dorm I lived in.” She just said. “I’m a college graduate.” Simple, not large scale.

        And again, I’m not saying that lying or deception is OK—and I’m not even speaking to how she covered up 7 years without a job. My whole point of concern in every comment in this thread is as an aside: millions of qualified people who have always excelled in certain kinds of jobs, sans degree, are suddenly required to go into massive debt to obtain one, or not get hired. This is the only aspect of the original post I spoke to—and wasn’t the first or only person to call attention to this issue.

        1. 'Tis Me*

          It says in the post that she dropped out after one semester though? We don’t know why – it could have been her funding fell through so it was no longer a possibility – but there’s no presumption here. This individual in question had the opportunity to start attending. And the 10 years of job history which presumably made up the bulk of her resume and interview..? She fabricated that wholesale, and that is more concerning.

          She didn’t just invent a degree. She invented a degree and 10 years of work history.

          I think if it was just the degree she invented but she had a solid work experience history a lot of people would be more inclined to let it coast.

  17. Asenath*

    It’s a really messy situation. The evidence isn’t clear, and neither is the cousin’s agenda – but there’s enough to raise serious suspicion of dishonesty. I think dishonesty on that alleged level is really something you don’t want in an employee. At the same time, I have long believed that the educational requirements for many jobs are irrelevant – they serve more to reduce the applicant pool or ensure you have a homogeneous social group than to select those best able to do the work, especially for entry-level jobs. On the other hand, I don’t think irrelevant job requirements excuse lying about them. So I’d say, reluctantly, this needs to be brought to the manager’s attention.

  18. Dagny*

    Many universities have .pdf documents of their commencement documents online. Those list all graduates. FYI.

    1. 8DaysAWeek*

      Oooo you are so right! And even yearbooks are online now. Classmates.com allowed me to find a picture and yearbook comments of someone who had virtually no social media presence :)

      1. emmelemm*

        Seriously? I might need to look for myself on there. Of course, doing so would alert them to the fact that I exist. It’s a dilemma.

    2. Yorick*

      But final grades are often due after graduation, so some people walk but don’t actually get a degree (more often than you’d think). Maybe they graduate later, but maybe they don’t.

      1. Dagny*

        The point is that if Larisa’s name is not listed in any of the .pdfs for the year(s) in which she claims to or could have graduated, it would start to sound like she never obtained the degree.

        You can also just see if the school offers the degree. (I know someone whose LinkedIn profile claims of having graduated from a certain college with a certain degree are easily disproved by the fact that the college doesn’t even grant a degree in that field. This is what happens when your one year of night classes become a “degree” later in life….)

    3. Pomona Sprout*

      Inconclusive. Lots and lots of people earn degrees but don’t bother doung commencement. Maybe thjngs have changed, but when I earned my BA from a large public university, the commencement ceremonies were huge, impersonal cattle calls that neither I, my husband, or most of my friends bothered with. We just had our diplomas mailed to us (which is what happens anyway, even if you do go through the ceremony). Years later, my daughter chose to skip commencement as well, even though her school was quute a bit smaller than our alma mater.

      TL/dr: Not everyone who earns a degree gets their name on a commencement program–not by a long shot!

    4. the other kind of $ problem*

      This has shades of a recent letter when someone found out a coworker had done an online investigation of him. Perhaps that was a case where that person’s “cousin” came forward. No one should be snooping around and doing an investigation of coworkers.

    5. MeganTea*

      Not necessarily. My university (where I work) does certification *after* graduation. That means there are students listed in the document that didn’t actually graduate that term.
      In Larissa’s case, this would work, but just keep in mind that these documents aren’t proof of degree earned.

  19. Hmmm... just pondering*

    I totally agree with what everyone is saying. All the potential incorrect resume references are too cooincidental to at least not mention it to your manager.

    I’m looking at this from another angle though I don’t believe it’s at all possible…I’m playing devil’s advocate / bait and switch here/ just spent a weekend binge watching too many made for TV movies…. how is Larisa and Josie’s relationship? Is it possible Josie brought this up Larisa’s background for another reason? a personal quarrel revenge? out of genuine concern for OP’s company?

    I am trying to reason why Josie would bring it up. It sounds like Josie purposely brought it up and not in a hey we have a mutual acquaintance way. While I agree with the debates above about when a college degree is needed and I don’t agree with Larisa lying (total other issue to be dealt with)…. but in this case it sounds like this position is slightly above entry level. It doesn’t sound like Josie is preventing a malicious character reference. Just pondering……….

    1. juliebulie*

      That all depends on whether:

      – Josie is a spiteful monster who is trying to ruin her cousin’s life because a dispute over Great-Grandma’s engagement ring

      or

      – Larisa is a grifter, an abuser, hell maybe even a vampire and Josie is choosing to focus on mild, easily provable facts to help OP get her out of the company because Josie doesn’t want OP to get ripped off/punched/exsanguinated.

      1. Yorick*

        I think the second option is more likely, since this is someone OP knows at least sort of well and I think she would be suspicious if Josie were really spiteful in general.

        1. Y'all.*

          I mean, for all we know, OP might just be okay with J being spiteful. Maybe this is the first spiteful thing J has done. I have some vampire relatives, but I just ignore them– I’m not FB friends with them, and I certainly don’t spend my spare time trying to get them fired.

      2. Not my usual name*

        Or, as me and my good friends are prone to do, Josie had heard her good friend the OP talk about work for years and kinda knew what qualifications the company expected. Josie was then surprised that her cousin was able to land said job and thought she’d confirm. Once confirmed, she then probably went on to say that she was surprised that someone without 1. college degree and 2. relevant work experience would be hired. No malicious intent, just two friends chatting over lunch. This site seems to believe that work and the rest of life are lived in two separate bubbles and I don’t think I’ve ever seen that happen in actuality.

  20. cheeky*

    I reported a (now-ex) coworker over falisifying her education in a situationery much like this. She claimed to have a specific degree from a specific university, and I recognized that the university did not offer that degree. At the same time, she was raising other flags with the quality of her work. I went to my boss about her degree discrepancy, and he discovered that she had not graduated from college and was passing off homework assignments as jobs. Getting rid of her was crucial, and my boss was aghast that she was able to manipulate the hiring process, which includes a background check. I say report it.

    1. Alice*

      In your case “she was raising other flags with the quality of her work” — isn’t that pretty different from what OP described?

      1. pamela voorhees*

        OP doesn’t directly work with Larissa, right? Or manage her? Larissa doesn’t seem to be failing, but frankly if OP is just a coworker, she shouldn’t know if management is having serious problems with Larissa because that should be between Larissa and management. Management should be told exactly like Alison describes.

  21. RUKiddingMe*

    OP’s friend is Coworker’s cousin. I’d like to point out that lots if wars, actual wars were fought on behalf of relatives having an argument (WW One anybody?)

    Even waaayyyy back in the day documents got forged to give one side an advantage over the other (ElizabethI and her sister Mary…for ex)

    Today, with all the tech, faking a FB post/SS would be pretty easy. Even for not really good at that kind of thing me.

    I’m not saying anything is sketchy here…but I’m just saying…

      1. Sarah N.*

        Yes, this is why (as in Alison’s advice), the OP should NOT go to their boss and say “Larissa definitely lied!” but rather just raise the issue and say they don’t know the full story but just wanted to share the information they became aware of. Obviously if HR actually did do a degree verification and fully checked references, and Josie were a total liar, this would be very quickly found out and nothing would happen to Larissa.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      That’s why she shouldn’t just be fired of course! That doens’t mean that the allegations shouldn’t be discussed.

      I mean people lie about a lot of things and try to ruin people’s lives by saying awful things. That’s why you get all the sides of the stories involved and then choose who seems more credible in the end.

      The thing is right now Larisa has been at the firm for almost a half a year, so they know her on some level. They’ll use that when weighing the report from the cousin and if someone says “My cousin is trying to ruin my life, these are doctored screenshots! Here let’s call and confirm my degree with the university!” Since if she has a degree, if she has a job history, it’s easy to confirm.

    2. the other kind of $ problem*

      Do we even know she’s actually coworker’s cousin? It could be part of the story to make it sound more credible!

  22. Hiring Mgr*

    Not sure if you should report Larissa or not..I probably wouldn’t but I see both sides. One thing I would do however is tell someone in HR/recruiting/mgmnt that they need a better background/reference check process.. as in they should have one!

  23. hamsterpants*

    Unfortunately for OP, now that she has been told these things by her friend, there’s no neutral option. Not saying anything is effectively covering for the new employee. If the cousin is as vindictive as other commenters are guessing, then the story will make it to the boss one way or another. Including the fact that OP now knows. Don’t be caught holding the bag, OP!

    1. juliebulie*

      Oooh, I hadn’t thought of that – that cousin might be motivated to escalate the campaign if this really is a vendetta.

      OTOH if Josie is really that spiteful, why doesn’t she just blackmail her cousin?

      1. This is ridiculous*

        Oh come on. This is a real situation, not a lifetime movie of the week. The tendency of the comment section lately to invent outlandish scenarios to justify bad behavior is getting stale. “My coworker is rude and insulting every single day.” “Well, maybe he has autism and doesn’t understand social norms, you neurotypical jerk!” “My friend just showed me a colleague’s Facebook post saying that she had made up her entire work history to get a job.” “Well your friend is obviously a bunny boiler who faked screenshots because she has a vendetta against your colleague! WHY ARE YOU LETTING HER THREATEN THE JOB OF A WOMAN WHO PROBABLY JUST FLED AN ABUSIVE MARRIAGE.!?”

        I mean, I’m sorry, but this used to be a useful site to get people’s takes on work problems. Now a lot of it reads like fan fiction. There’s devil’s advocate and there’s silly, and IMO we are getting a lot more of the latter than the former.

        1. President Porpoise*

          I agree. Some fan fictioning to flesh out potential complications that maybe hadn’t been thought of, or to offer a new perspective, adds value. But when you have to wade thru literally hundreds of comments, many of which are people arguing whether its heartless to report an ethical violation to an employer if it would negatively affect a desperate person, gets … tiresome. Sure, raise it once or twice, but let’s not battle over nuance in 25 different subthreads.

          Alison, is it possible to start flagging and/or removing excessively “creative” or repetitive fan fiction in the comments, under the “not everyone can eat sandwiches” rule?

    2. Don*

      I don’t think this is that fraught. If the cousin were to drop all this and OP actually got asked about it the reasonable answer is “I honestly just figured this was some family drama and made-up because it seemed so impossible that someone would have made up that much stuff and got away with it.” But I think it would never come to that precisely because it would be so embarrassing for someone to admit they’d completely failed to do any validation and been so completely conned.

      1. banzo_bean*

        Yeah but in a company of 10 people you really think it won’t color other’s opinions of you even if you have a reasonable excuse?

        1. hamsterpants*

          I agree! “I didn’t want to get involved” doesn’t hold water when you ARE involved. It’s not like OP heard some juicy but non-work-related gossip about OP being a swinger or something — this is information that could easily materially affect the company, if it hasn’t already.

  24. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    If she had just not graduated and had a job history to back her up, I would be a lot more kind to this snake of a woman. You say she’s doing okay at her job but I’m wondering if there’s anything that you’re missing in that aspect, since I’ve cleaned up so many messy books and after so many people who were clearly “faking it until they made it”, I’m shivering at what the clean up may look like if she’s actually just really good at the facade she’s keeping.

    They passed up on people who had actual experience, actual degrees and actual integrity. I would spill the beans on it and let the chips fall where they may. They deserve to learn from this situation and how they let a fox in the hen house without doing their due diligence in checking her history out.

    1. hamsterpants*

      Good point. Is OP actually in a position to say that she’s in fact performing up to expectations?

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Yeah and just so everyone is aware, most of the time the good fraudsters never seem incompetent on the outside. They seem to have it together, seem to know what they’re doing, seem to be doing their jobs well. They’re often likeable. They’re not monsters, they’re not the boogyman who are easy to spot instantly.

        They walk among us. They lie to our faces with a smile. They sign our birthday cards, they bring in donuts for the team sometimes, etc. That’s how they get away with it for a long time and fly under the radar.

        1. Anon Accountant*

          100% agree. I’ve seen it multiple times unfortunately and cleaned up the messes they’ve left behind.

    2. President Porpoise*

      Agree. As I said above, I fully believe that the supervisor needs to know so that they can make the management decisions best for the company. As someone else pointed out, there’s a world of difference in the level of supervision ad training you give to a true newbie and someone with seven years of experience elsewhere. Seven years of experience is, at may large organization, enough to put you into consideration for some decent managerial roles. They need to know that she doesn’t actually have what she may have claimed to have in order to plan and execute their business effectively.

      That’s not to say that I don’t have sympathy for Larisa and her situation, if Josie’s claims are accurate. It’s a hard world out there for those who don’t have experience or degrees, and it sucks to have to compete against those who have lower income requirements for unskilled entry level roles. But OP’s company is, presumably, not a charity designed to benefit unqualified employees. It has real business objectives that it must meet, which may be at risk because of a bad hire. And as for Larisa – well, she made what I like to call a life-limiting decision that cut off certain life choices and opportunities, at least until it’s fixed. And this is an unfortunate consequence.

  25. Milk of Amnesia*

    This is something an ethics class needs to debate.

    On the one hand it can be seen that a person’s character is flawed and may contain the ability to fabricate more lies or do devious things. The other hand shows that this person acted because of a flawed hiring and requirement process to get a job to support themselves because or become homeless. Remember the most pious people will steal in order to put food in their bellies and have a roof over their head.

    The OP also has to consider can they live with themselves knowing they could potentially be the one that gets this person fired and sends them on a downward spiral. Not many companies will hire people with no degrees and frankly degrees for basic jobs are over rated.

    I would be inclined to ask the person themselves for clarification. Or judge them on the merits of how they do their job. This could be the only thing they did wrong to survive in this society. Then again will them knowing this about the person cause their job to be in peril. Also social media posts need to be taken with grain of salt.

  26. anon4this1*

    Y’all are forgetting that a community member presented allegations that one of this company’s very small staff LIED to get a position. If the cousin presented this to the company who’s to say that someone else won’t notify them? At the very least, OP you need to bring this to the manager to CYA. It doesn’t matter if she can learn on the job or if she’s doing a good job now. If Larisa is willing to lie in such an engregious manner to get this job, who’s to say she won’t do this again while on the job that has much bigger repercussions? Since you’re not in charge of Larisa I woudn’t do anything else. Once the manager knows, it’s off your hands and your conscience.

    1. CL*

      And how does OP know she’s really doing her work? Maybe she’s lying about having sent things out or messages being given or any of a number of things that haven’t come home to roost yet. She’s only been in the job five months, her incompetence may not have come to light yet. There are plenty of ways to cover incompetence in the short-term (mainly through, well, lying).

  27. question*

    Looking at this from another angle, if you were the manager in this situation and OP came to you with the information and following Alison’s script and AAM advice, what would you do as a manager? what would the next step be?

    1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      Double check with whoever was supposed to check references to make sure it really happened. Verify employment if the references were not checked or the numbers/e-mails given were personal rather than professional (e.g. @gmail vs @companyname)

    2. Percysowner*

      First I’d check on the previous work experience. If Larisa said she had worked for only one employer and didn’t want her current employer contacted, that is a good reason for that to not be checked. Now that she’s been hired, that doesn’t hold anymore. So call whoever she said she had worked for for 10 years. They are either going to say yes she worked for, us, or no she didn’t. That should be a pretty easy thing to find out, and the (possibly) falsified work experience is the worst of the allegations. If she did have the appropriate experience, I would move on to checking the degree. If she did lie about 10 years of experience, then I would want her gone, because that is too high a breach of trust.

      I admit, I would have a huge issue if someone faked the degree to the extent described here. This isn’t someone who went for 4 years and didn’t get the last credit they needed. This isn’t someone who went 2 years and dropped out because of PTSD, she completed only ONE semester of college. If she had the requisite work experience, then I would look into why she lied about the college and ask what were the circumstance of dropping out. IF I kept her as an employee, I would keep an eagle eye on her to make sure she didn’t have other ethical lapses.

      One problem with misrepresenting the degree is that it also means a longer gap in her resume. She now is not only lying about working for 10 years, there are 4 years when she was in school that wouldn’t be accounted for. If she stated she was working and going to school for 4 of those 10 years, then the gap isn’t quite so bad. In any case, she lied to get a job and that would be hard to get over, unless she was doing a fantastic job.

      All of this presumes that there isn’t a real reason for the college degree requirement.

  28. !*

    I don’t know, I would be less than forthcoming and have the company due its due diligence with regard to following up on Larissa’s degrees and experience. You could say that you heard she did not have what was claimed on her bio and was it confirmed? We had a new hire in IT who did not pass their background check *after* they were hired and started visiting our locations (and seeing our infrastructure environment) because our internal HR department thought the recruiting company did it and vice versa. Had another new hire not pass their drug screening two weeks AFTER he was working here, again because HR did not enforce their own rule that the results had to be provided before the final offer was confirmed. I can’t imagine any company not wanting to do their own background checks on their employees and following their own policies. In those cases, you get what you deserve (there are a number of costs associated to hiring someone, and there is the potential to cause a serious security breach in certain circumstances).

    1. CL*

      I used to work in banking. It’s amazing the number of people who lied about having a criminal background, knowing that we took fingerprints and that (1) we’d find out that they did have a criminal history and (2) we could not/would not hire them (legally, they have to be bonded and a criminal conviction will keep them from being bonded). It was actually in all caps on the (at that time, paper) application. At least once a month, I’d get a call from the FBI, telling me that an applicant’s fingerprints came back with a hit.

    2. !*

      Even beyond the drug testing, I wish they would just Google the potential employee. I found out so much about my current asshat coworker that raised many red flags in my eyes. I wish I had done it sooner and brought it up to my manager, now it’s 5 years later, he’s still an asshat and due to his medical status, has FMLA so he can pretty much do whatever he wants.

  29. Lana Kane*

    With so many people concerned that Josie might have an agenda, could the OP add to Alison’s script: “Also, if this turns out to be incorrect, I’d be concerned that Larissa might have a relative who is causing her trouble, and I feel she should know”?

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      This is the most honest way to go about it, I think. Present the information to the manager exactly as the OP has it: this is what has been said, this is who has said it, this is what proof she had, here are the concerns regarding accuracy & how compelling the proof is.

      The manager presumably knows more about Larissa’s actual interview and hire process than the OP does, including whether Larissa actually stated she had the degree and job history or if the HR email was incorrect for some reason, as well as the scope to assess Larissa’s work and determine if it’s good enough to keep her on despite lacking the qualifications (if that in fact is the case).

    2. gbca*

      Yeah, given the strong feelings here about Josie’s role in this, I would definitely emphasize the possibility that the cousin may not be correct a little more than in Alison’s script. I’m not sure the OP should get into speculation about the cousin’s motives with the boss though.

  30. Mop.*

    Getting actual *references* can be (and usually is) a useless time sink. But getting a background check that verifies education and dates of employment is cheap, easy, and offered by numerous vendors. I’d probably stay out of this one unless I had a compelling reason to escalate it. Also, is it weird that I don’t think I could tell you the educational attainment of any of my cousins? Why is Josie so invested in this?

    Side note—Does your company really have an HR person with only 10 employees?

    1. Curmudgeon in California*

      Yeah, my scrutiny would be on Josie. That seems to be too much “dog in a manger” for my tastes.

      1. Mop.*

        Yep. Also, there’s no compelling reason to require a degree for “clerical and client outreach.”

        Furthermore, women who are “unemployed” sometimes perform this sort of role for volunteer organizations, which is relevant even if unpaid.

    2. banzo_bean*

      I have ~20 cousins and I could list all of their education accomplishments. Work history- not as much, but I could probably get close. I have a very nosy family.

    3. Sarah N.*

      I mean, I could tell you the educational attainment of most of my cousins, including what school they went to. We’re close and were all in college at around the same time, so talked about our experiences when we saw each other. I feel like speculation about how well Josie does/doesn’t know her cousin is pretty baseless, because people have ALL kinds of relationships with their cousins. Some people it’s more of an acquaintance, some people it’s practically like another sibling. There is really no way to tell.

  31. c56*

    I’m probably in the minority among commentators here but … I’d leave it alone. Of course it’s wrong to fabricate a resume, but if she’s competent at her job (and not, like, performing open heart surgery) she’s really not hurting anyone. And losing a job/medical insurance/etc can be deadly.

  32. Eda*

    I really don’t see the point of LW disclosing this. If Josie is telling the truth, then Larisa lied, which is bad. But this job doesn’t actually require a degree or experience – and Larisa was probably desperate for a job after her divorce. It would weigh deeply on my conscious if I got a competent employee fired like this.

    1. banzo_bean*

      At the same time the company is made up of 10 people, if it somehow comes out the OP knew about this and failed to disclose it, it could mean the end of her job as well. At best, it would be uncomfortable having to work in an environment where everyone knows that you withheld the truth.

  33. Spek*

    I think I must just be jaded. I know a lot of people on this site work in non-profits or small companies where they believe in the mission or the product. There also may be a lot of people like me: a corporate drone for a Fortune 100 company that has a shady ethical history and circumvents the law whenever it can. My CEO made $23 million last year. So I have my own ethic where I try to do an honest day’s work for my pay. I’m not unhappy – I work hard as reasonable to get money to do things I enjoy, and judging someone else’s workplace integrity doesn’t figure in. If they ain’t hurting me or mine, it’s worth a wry smile and that’s as involved as I want to be. Sounds like she’s doing OK and I don’t see who loses. Again, if I cared about the company maybe I would see it different.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Small companies are also easier to fold. So when we’re sitting next to someone who may be doing nefarious things that may actually harm the company long term, that’s a big deal. I’ve seen companies put out of business because of someone who was trusted that shouldn’t have been.

      This isn’t probably one of those cases, since it sounds like she’s doing things that would jeopardize their standing but if someone is client facing, they can do more damage than you can imagine when it’s a small organization. Our ability to be ruined by word-of-mouth and by losing a few big accounts is very real.

      So that is the difference here. In your situation, everyone is just a small cog in a giant wheel with a million check points in place. So there are layers of protection built into the whole place, your livelihood isn’t on the line in the end. Whereas with those in smaller situations do have to think of the whole picture. So I totally get why you’d be less likely to speak up and don’t blame you at all! You have less to lose and you have less to gain in the end as well. It’s all about risks and how close you are to the heart of the organization.

    2. Fortitude Jones*

      Another long-time corporate drone here who doesn’t care too much about this. If Larisa was an absolute disaster and was making my work life harder due to her lies and incompetence, I’d sing like Patti LaBelle. But she’s doing her job and she’s doing it well? Eh, I’ll let Josie reach out to the company and out her cousin.

  34. I'd Rather Not Say*

    I’m considering the possibility that the hiring manager realizes the job qualifications are a bit over the top and hired Larisa anyway because after meeting with her, had a sense she was capable of doing the job. The hiring manager then embellished Larisa’s background in the email that went out to staff to create a positive first impression.

    I do think OP has the obligation to share what she was told though, in case problems with Larisa’s integrity are discovered, and Alison’s scripts were an excellent way to do so.

    1. Yorick*

      It isn’t “embellishing” to say someone has a degree when they have 1 semester. I just really doubt you would make that up if you knowingly hired someone without a degree.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      That’s a huge stretch, most people don’t just lie and just decide that they’ll introduce a new employee as someone with an advanced degree that they don’t have.

      1. Close Bracket*

        You mean, most people don’t just lie and just decide that they’ll introduce a new employee as someone with a bachelor’s degree that they don’t have. No need to inflate the lies to make your point.

      2. banzo_bean*

        Yeah, and I have a feeling that if an manager did lie about an employee having an advanced degree we’d being seeing a “help! my boss lied and said I have credentials/experience that I don’t have” letter to AAM very soon!

      3. I'd Rather Not Say*

        It would be interesting information to have about the hiring manager, though, wouldn’t it?

        I realize it’s kind of a stretch, and I’m not defending such a thing, but we read about all sorts of misguided behavior here.

        Who knows, maybe the hiring manager was once in a similar situation herself and thought she was helping?

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I’ve had people dump their “education” requirements for me a lot over the years because they see my resume and go “LOL yeah you don’t need that 2 year degree we usually require”.

          So that’s a thing for sure and something a manager may easily be able to override, especially for a place of 10 people.

          But yeah, still not seeing why anyone would bend their rules and then lie about it to everyone by making up a BA that doesn’t exist.

          1. I'd Rather Not Say*

            For sure, it would be terrible judgement by that manager to put that lie out there.

            Again, not the likeliest of scenarios, but everyone was focused on if it was Josie or Larisa lying, so I thought, what if it was neither?

          2. Fortitude Jones*

            I could see the manager bending the rules, but not sending out the introductory email full of lies. I imagine the manager would have just talked about Larisa’s family and hobbies in the email and called it a day.

  35. Anono-me*

    I think OP has to report what Josie told her about Larisa. I would provide Josie’s contact information and leave out any research. Keep it this is what, I was told, I thought you should know.

    I don’t know that this would be my advice in general. But I am 99% sure Josie will try again if OP doesn’t get Larisa fired. And this time she will probably throw OP under the bus too. Even if Larisa told the truth or TBTP know about the 1 semester of college and 7 years off work; they are going to want to know why OP didn’t say anything.

    Also, just maybe Josie is making things up; if so Larisa needs to know what is going on and who is doing it.

    Either way, OP should also reevaluate her friendship with Larisa. Maybe she is a nice person going the extra mile to protect strangers from an unscrupulous scam artist, but maybe she is just mean.

    Also, the qualifications required for this position are unbelievable.

  36. k8*

    lol this post is so interesting– some people seem really invested in the right of a person to completely lie about every aspect of their professional life without any consequences . . .

    1. Lilo*

      Kind of shocked people don’t think this is a big deal. It also requires continued lying “Oh you worked at Teapots, Inc? What was that like” or “Hey I went to State U! Did you ever meet Professor Smith?” and so on.

      1. Parenthetically*

        I don’t see anyone saying that lying on a resume and falsifying this much information isn’t a big deal. I see a lot of people questioning Josie’s investment in this scenario, debating whether OP has an obligation to act based on Josie’s information, and lamenting that current Western work culture demands things like college degrees for clerical jobs and a decade of experience for entry-level positions. But I don’t see anyone excusing the lies at all.

          1. Parenthetically*

            I think there are a lot of people lamenting the desperate measures of desperate people in an unfair system. That’s not justification in my mind.

            To use a hyperbolic literary example, Jean Valjean stole the loaf of bread. It was wrong. No question. But that doesn’t mean we can’t lament the broken system that makes him so desperate for food that he’ll steal to eat, or that we can’t be happy for him when the priest gives him the candlesticks.

          1. Parenthetically*

            Huh. I read that as part and parcel of the larger “requiring college degrees unnecessarily actually hurts real humans and businesses need to stop doing it” conversation, with a side note of a lot of people saying it’s not OP’s business. (I think it is, and suggested a script above for OP bringing this to her boss, but I can sympathize with people seeing Josie as a busybody trying to torpedo her cousin’s career and OP as someone caught in the crossfire who needs to butt out. Not my exact view, but I can understand it.)

      2. EventPlannerGal*

        It’s not that I don’t think it’s a big deal, I just don’t care. Any company that requires a degree to carry out clerical tasks and then does not do the very basic checks to verify that a candidate actually has the degree deserves whatever it gets, IMO.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s because of the power struggle involved when it comes to Employers verses The Individual Employee.

      Many will side with the Individual because they see themselves in that person. Not that they’re liars of course! But they can sympathize with Larisa lying because she needs a job to support herself.

      And it doesn’t help that she seemingly is good enough at the job, so “who’s really getting hurt here” tends to pop up in minds.

      It’s the aged old idea that “Do we really need to punish people who steal food to feed their families?!” In reality we have to still punish those who break rules society puts in place but society also needs to fix what’s broken [poverty in that case] but you know…getting society all on the same page and to change their ingrained habits and thought process, that takes generations to really scrub away.

    3. pleaset*

      “some people seem really invested in the right of a person to completely lie about every aspect of their professional life without any consequences”

      I wouldn’t call it us thinking it’s a right. I’d call it compassion when someone is really in need.

      I think stealing to eat is not that bad a thing. I don’t think people have a right to steal in general.

      Oh, Parenthetically said it very well above.

      1. mananana*

        But what evidence do we have that Larissa is “really in need”? For all you (we) know, she’s a trust-fund baby. Does that change your answer?

          1. Wednesday*

            Tell me about it. If only I had a nickel every time I heard a trust fund baby say, “Jet off to the Seychelles for two weeks? No thanks, I’d rather take calls and enter data into spreadsheets.”

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      For me, it’s not about the lying– because we don’t even know if she’s lying! It’s about the way this was presented. I think the lying is a very big deal, but I’m way more put off by the circumstances. Massive grain-of-salt situation.

      1. Mop.*

        This exactly. We don’t know that she is lying. Cousin could be lying for all we know. This isn’t the OP’s nut to crack.

  37. Wing Leader*

    Everyone seems to be scrutinizing Larisa, but I’m more concerned with the cousin. How sure are you, OP, that cousin is being 100 percent truthful and knows all of this about Larisa?

    If it is true, then I find it very odd that Larisa managed to pull the wool over your company’s eyes to that extent. I can see a little fudging like Alison mentioned sliding under the radar, but an entire resume? That really doesn’t make any sense to me.

    The worst case scenario to me is that OP goes to her boss, finds out she is wrong (Cousin lied, Cousin didn’t intentionally lie but just didn’t know as much as she thought about Larisa, etc.) and OP looks like a gossip or like she’s spreading false information.

    My advice would conflict with Alison this time. I would say don’t say anything because it’s not your responsibility. If Larisa truly did fabricate her entire resume, then your company will learn a hard lesson in doing their due diligence. That’s all there is to it for me.

    1. CL*

      A small, 10 person company can go under if even one person screws things up badly enough. Is it worth their job to OP?

      1. Meepmeep*

        If it’s a small company and OP is wrong about Larisa (turns out Josie had an ax to grind against her and made the whole thing up), how long do you think OP will last in that job?

  38. Curmudgeon in California*

    Something doesn’t pass the smell test, and its not Larisa.

    Faking a degree AND job history is hard, especially when it comes time for reference checks.

    Accusing someone of it is easy, and facebook profiles are easy to fake.

    The key question to ask is “Were Larisa’s references checked? Was her degree verified?”

    Because this seems like someone trying to screw over Larisa, maybe her family, maybe someone who fooled her cousin.

    Also, why in the world are you requiring a degree for an accounting clerk? I get so sick of companies wanting an expensive four year degree to be allowed to do data entry and answer phones.

    1. CL*

      She’s not an accounting clerk, she’s an account coordinator. I think that requires more than data entry and answering phones. While it may be entry level for that company, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a clerk-level job. IT may be that the position doesn’t really need a degree, or it may be that TPTB know that some of their future duties will require more knowledge or they plan to add to the position at some point. They may be misguided in their requirements, but that’s not really the OP’s call to make.

    2. pcake*

      You think it’s hard, but I’ve known many people who did it – some repeatedly, most successfully. A relative of mine finally got caught the third time she did it – the first two times she never did get caught – six months into a job, when they finally contacted the university she claimed she graduated from and discovered she attended for two months.

  39. Tiara Wearing Princess*

    I’m on the fence here. She is doing the job. The position does not necessarily require a degree.

    The woman got divorced and couldn’t find employment. Maybe she was desperate. Maybe she was on the brink of bankruptcy or eviction. Maybe she has kids. I think I’d stay out of it. The boss has no way of knowing the OP has this info.

    Does the OP really want to be responsible for this woman losing her job?

    You never know what is going on in someone else’s life. I hope she lets it go.

    1. pamela voorhees*

      It’s not okay to make up a degree and work history whole cloth just because you really need work, though?

      1. Lilo*

        And for any desperate job seekers reading this: the people here defending this aren’t reflecting the attitude a boss or hiring manager will have if you get caught doing this. You could not only be fired, you could be blacklisted from whole.industries for doing this.

        In some contexts, this even could lead to criminal penalties.

        Do NOT even think about doing this.

        1. Pomona Sprout*

          “Lots of things aren’t okay. We don’t – and don’t have to – insert ourselves into all of them.”

          This is an excellent point.

        2. smoke tree*

          I would agree if the LW was wondering whether to dig into Larisa’s credentials. But now that the LW has the information, the question is really whether they should be the person to make the call on this, or whether it’s something the manager should handle.

    2. gbca*

      Where do you draw the line about when doing things out of desperation is no longer OK? If she’s still hurting financially after the divorce and decides to dip into company funds to pay rent, is that OK too? I’m super baffled about this stance across the comments (not just yours).

          1. Close Bracket*

            I’m not sure where the line is. I am sure that the line is nowhere near either of those poles, so it’s exact location is not relevant.

          2. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

            Is she hurting anyone: that’s the line. Is it still wrong on a broad scale? yeah, it’s important to be able to generally trust that people aren’t lying. But the company hasn’t been hurt by her lies. If she started embezzling, that would cause harm.

            1. One of the Sarahs*

              I’d argue that she hurt the people who were in the running for her job (who may have been more “desperate” for a job than her) who lost out due to her lies.

              I don’t understand why so many people are deciding only Larisa really needed the job, and that everyone who was rejected is justifiable collateral, even before we get into “what else could she be lying about?”

    3. BelleMorte*

      I don’t think her desperation or personal circumstances should matter.

      Sure, she may be desperate but the fact that IF she falsified her resume/credentials to get this job, this means she screwed over someone who actually put the work in to qualify. That person could have been a single mother of disabled quadruplets for all you know.

      OP would not be responsible for her losing her job, the woman who made the decision to falsify her resume is responsible for the consequences of doing so, and this may mean losing her job.

  40. auburn*

    Unless the OP has executive management or HR responsibilities I don’t feel like she has any obligation to bring this to her boss. Right now it can just be classed as gossip she didn’t seek out and treated as such. In that situation, unless I had reason to believe that the possibly fudged experience or education was impacting her ability to do the job I’d err on the side of not my circus, not my monkeys and stop doing any further digging or research.

    If a degree or experience were required in order to do the job well or safely, like, someone you had reason to believe someone faked an engineering degree or HR certification or something, then I’d feel very differently and would feel obligated to raise the issue.

    Also, I think you always risk some blowback that someone higher up will see this as gossip or meddling, especially if they were responsible for vetting this person and cut corners and are getting called on it. Doesn’t seem worth the headache to me.

  41. Lucette Kensack*

    I’m just so, so baffled by all the folks arguing that because Larisa *really needed* the job and is apparently doing well in it that her lying doesn’t matter.

    Do you really believe that? Let’s assume that the cousin and LW are right: Would you trust Larisa with access to your bank account? Would you trust her to own up to a mistake she made in her work? Would you trust her to manage and mentor a junior employee?

    I realize that we don’t know what actually happened, and that’s not what I’m getting at. I’m responding to the theme in these comments that Larisa’s potential dishonesty is justified, no big deal, and isn’t something her employer should care about.

    1. c56*

      Her employer should care about it, and should have done their job when hiring her. The question is, should her co-worker — who by their own admission is not affected by this at all — care? I don’t know what my teammates put on their resume or whether or not they were telling the truth, and I don’t care, as long as they know what they’re doing.

    2. Parenthetically*

      “because Larisa *really needed* the job and is apparently doing well in it that her lying doesn’t matter.”

      Nah. Maybe you’re reading comments about Larissa’s ability to succeed in the job as justification for her lying? I read them as irritation at businesses that make the requirements for jobs like Larissa’s so high that people who are perfectly capable of doing them aren’t even qualified to apply.

      1. Lucette Kensack*

        Nope, there are plenty of comments that dismiss the lying entirely, arguing that she shouldn’t lose her job (even if her falsifications are proven true) because she’s competent and needs the job.

        1. Parenthetically*

          I must be missing ALL of those — or just reading them differently. ;) I absolutely agree with your comment above, by the way, about the ideal outcome of this situation (provided Josie is correct in her analysis). It’s not that someone doesn’t need to lose their job for blatantly falsifying a resume, it’s that companies need to use situations like this to reevaluate their job requirements so it doesn’t happen again in the same way.

    3. Swampy*

      Mm and someone else who really needed the job (but didn’t lie to get ahead) might have gotten it if she hadn’t.

      I get the problem with degrees as a barrier but maybe everyone has been watching too much Suits.

  42. Y'all.*

    Sounds like Josie needs to get a life instead of trying to torpedo her cousin’s life.

    If I were OP, I’d stay out of this family feud. OP doesn’t actually know anything– she just knows what Josie says, and J sounds pretty biased. Those “screenshots” don’t prove anything because they’re super easy to fake. I just don’t see any upside for OP in reporting this, nor do I see any foreseeable harm from not saying anything– it’s not like Larisa’s pretending to be a doctor. It’s just OP thinking Larisa isn’t good enough to work there.

      1. Scion*

        Giving your boss a heads up about a very serious potential issue about a coworker is not “tattling” or “gossiping.” Alison’s script is very careful not to oversell the confidence of the information that the OP has. She’s basically giving the boss some extra information to consider, and leaving it up to them what action, if any, to take.

    1. the other kind of $ problem*

      Yep – I once worked at a company where we had to fire someone for lying about having PharmD and her job was dealing with adverse reactions to a drug. Literally life threatening stuff. OP should MYOB and side-eye Josie.

  43. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

    Take your personal frustration out of the equation and be very, very certain that your information is correct before deciding to do anything. This is a really difficult situation to be in, but whatever you decide, make sure that you have as much of the facts as you can. If this blows up in your face in any way, you want to make sure that you acted in good faith and with all the information at hand.

    This is the kind of dilemma that would give me sleepless nights. On the one hand, Larisa may be extremely untrustworthy and keeping quiet could cause problems for you later on. On the other, you don’t know what happened during the hiring process, so if it turns out everything is above board, you could come out of it looking like a troublemaker.

    Whatever happens, I hope it works out for the best for everyone involved. Good luck on this one, it’s a rough place to be in.

  44. Engineer Girl*

    I’d like to raise another aspect to those that think falsifying a resume is no big deal. Have you considered how it affects women and people of color?

    As a high achieving women I have many times been accused of enhancing or falsifying my resume. If I remember correctly, Princess Consuela Banana Hammock has had the same experience.

    When people falsify their resumes they make it that much harder for those of us that actually earned and worked for our achievements. It directly affects those that are already struggling to be respected in the workplace.

    When you say it’s no big deal, you’re actually minimizing the hard work of those of us that worked our tails off.

    1. Lilo*

      I didn’t even consider this, but yeah, this has happened to my sister in law (a woc in a traditionally white male field). She was the first in her family to go to college and graduated at the top of her class in both undergrad and professional school.

      1. Engineer Girl*

        Yup. Those who haven’t done the work tend to dismiss what it means to achieve it.

        The falsify resume crowd don’t get it.

    2. Minding Your Business is Free*

      *groan*

      Your hard work and earned achievements will stand up on their own but you’re going to be questioned/judged/underpaid/disbelieved/have to do twice as much for half/ as a WOC in this country/world no matter what your earned and worked for. Blame that on the system, not on those who are trying to find a footing in it from their disadvantaged point *not working due to taking care of a man/family – no higher education for whatever life reason, etc*.

      This is such a bad take. This is NOT where your grievance is and this is NOT who is making things harder for you. Girl please. This is like saying someone making a bad choice is making us all look bad. No. The classist/racist/prejudiced systems that judge our every move and make us a monolith is responsible for that. Larisa isn’t. Stop it.

      1. Harper the Other One*

        I’d argue it does add to the problem, though – think how often actual rape/sexual assault victims are dismissed because “remember that one person who falsified an accusation that time?” Larisa may not be responsible for the system but she does reinforce the doubt and skepticism within it.

  45. TootsNYC*

    I am more and more finding it infuriating that a college degree has been used as a barrier to employment.

    It’s absolutely a class filter. And it’s completely unnecessary.

    1. Another HR manager*

      Agreed – and being unemployed! Having that be a barrier to employment just makes putting the pieces together impossible.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I know a lot of people who went to college for degrees because they were told it was going to get them out of poverty and out of the lower-middle class.

      The cold cruddy reality has actually shown us that they’re not even employable with their degrees, it’s so much more than just requiring a degree in the end.

      So a story about some place that “requires” a degree and someone without one being erroneously placed there because of someone’s lack of due diligence is another thorn in the side of all of us long term.

      1. shep*

        THIS. My peers and I were all brought up to believe that a college education was the key to financial success. My mom has a degree and my dad had some college, but had to drop out due to lack of funds (although he now has several associate’s degrees and an adjunct position just because he is a consummate learner/teacher).

        But they really struggled to make ends meet some years, which I only really knew about when I got older, because they were really good at hiding it from me and my brother and sacrificing a lot to pay for our extracurriculars, etc., and they too always stressed the importance of college. You were made–if only you got that degree. And not going to college was INCONCEIVABLE. We spoke about our peers not going to college in hushed tones and shook our heads–which is just horrifying, and horrifyingly elitist, to me now.

        In retrospect, I would’ve done much better for myself financially going to trade school, or barring that, forcing myself to study something marketable–which I know still yields a ton of fresh grads in extremely competitive fields.

        But nope. English.

        The only reason I’m glad I got my bachelor’s degree was that it paved the way for me to go to my dream graduate program–for creative writing. That was amazing but purely a labor of love. It translated to a lot of debt and crickets re: job searching. I was naive enough to think that having a terminal degree made me GLORIOUSLY appealing as a job candidate, but there I was stuck between no real job experience and a lot of floofy credentials (of course, I’d argue that skills gained from fine and liberal arts study are very real and DEEPLY undervalued, but that’s a separate issue) in the middle of the recession. It took me over a year to find gainful employment, and I know that’s partially just because I got lucky.

        I value education, but I’ve gotten deeply suspicious of the construct of “college,” at least as it exists now. I’m sure it still opens some doors, but there are large swathes of “college” that are deeply and increasingly problematic. Add “degree required” to the vast majority of administrative jobs, and I’m just facepalming all over the place.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Debt that’s not even able to be dumped at some time if you hit all the walls. We can file bankruptcy and run away from the medical bill crisis or the credit card industry that’s sucked so many people dry over the years but not those student loans, nope those are forever.

        Good thing we’re having 17-22 year olds making that kind of decision on the false hopes we’re force feeding them like ducks getting their livers fattened up.

  46. Don*

    I think you should keep it to yourself based solely on how stomach-turning I find this phrase: “and cannot imagine we’d have hired someone with such a gap in employment.” People taking time out of the workforce – and for women it’s often for family issues – shouldn’t be punished for it. Never mind the feminist reasons; if we applied this concept consistently there’d be some period of time after with unemployment would become permanent!

    I’m mostly kidding about that as a reason, but I’ll be the (probable) contrary voice here and say keep it to yourself. She’s doing the job and her lack of formal education seems not to be harming her performance. I similarly would wonder what else someone would lie about but perhaps she just got desperate and thought (apparently correctly in this case) that these requirements didn’t actually impact her ability to do this job. She’s going to have to live with this sword hanging over her head as long as she works there and possibly long after that. Console yourself with the fact that even if she didn’t do the work or pay the tuition bills you did, you get to go to work every day without constantly worrying that this might be when you get found out and can’t pay your rent anymore.

    If you do turn her in I’d disagree with Allison’s suggestion that you specify you heard this from her cousin. They’ll take the question about your coworker’s experience seriously or they won’t. Potentially creating a huge family drama doesn’t give the report any more legitimacy when you boss doesn’t know this cousin from a hole in the wall.

  47. gbca*

    Wow, I’m kind of shocked at all the Larisa defense here. Forget the OP’s feelings about getting her degree…what about the candidates who may have been more qualified than Larisa, but still lacked the degree that Larisa claims to have? They were either passed over or didn’t apply at all. Assuming the accusations are true (and they’re SO easily verified that I’m going to assume they’re true – if they’re not, the boss will easily verify that and case closed), this is a person who is willing to lie when the personal stakes are high. And it’s a BIG falsification to make up BOTH a degree and a substantial work history. Once you’ve demonstrated that you’re willing to lie to get whatever you need, what other ethical breaches will you make for your personal needs?

  48. This is a morally stressful choice*

    After reading the letter a second time it does strike me as weird that she had to ask Josie had to ask her friend if Larisa worked there. Why did Josie have to do digging to find this info? Maybe Joise and Larisa have a bad relationship? Also she said this was told to her weeks ago and I wonder how much time now has passed and how it would look that she has kept quiet so long. I agree with a comment I saw that she should not say anything at this point. She risks looking like she kept a secret and/ or like she is a gossip.

    If she does mention it, I feel like it should be stressed that it was unsolicited information and that she was not digging into another co-workers life but for the sake the business felt she should mentioning.

  49. Jk*

    Personally I’d drop by her desk and ask her how she’s doing and say you know her cousin … Such a small world. Once you gauge her reaction decide where to go from there.

    1. This is a morally stressful choice*

      Lol this crossed my mind too… but she would then directly involve herself in office drama and I imagine would make things worse if Larisa is fired. If she chooses to do any facebook snooping herself she’d find out that they are friends and I imagine IF Larisa is as bad as many of the comments are suggesting she could be, she could find herself with someone snooping into her social life.

      There is no privacy these days! But seriously I want a follow up to this.

      1. Jk*

        Ugh , yeah it’s tough. Stuck between a rock and a hard place. Op also doesn’t know how she would react, things could get heated as she has a lot to lose.

        1. This is a morally stressful choice*

          Exactly, if she is a con woman or a woman just trying to get back her independence from a divorce she could become very distressed if she feels her cover is blown.

  50. S*

    She may have fabricated her references as well by listing friends and warning them to lie for her if contacted. The company may have done a reference check to a fabricated list of work contacts. I would not be able to trust this person at all.

    1. This is a morally stressful choice*

      It’s very possible, growing up it was suggested by more than one person to me that I should use fake references. (I’m too paranoid to do something like that) and it’s wrong lol but I can also see how someone could be given this misguided information – and how another may find it useful in situations like this were Larisa may feel that the job did not require much experience.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’ve known people who will have people lie for them and fudge their histories over the years.

      I could see her facebook posts leading to some DM’s from friends who are willing to help her out :|

      1. This is a morally stressful choice*

        A lot can be fabricated and if anything it’s likely easier in a small business where they might not have the resources to look into an employee properly.

        I am really curious about Josie’s intent though, honestly after she confirmed her cousins job she could have contacted the employer herself and try to get her fired. It almost seems like she might being trying to do this through her friend?

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I have to wonder if Josie only cares because she is Good Friends with the OP.

          See if my cousin did this, I would be all “Yikes, that’s a bad life choice.” but I wouldn’t go out of my way to wreck them by any means. I wouldn’t track down their boss.

          However if I then found out that lying cousin was in an office with A Good Friend, my “I care now” gets turned on. Then I know someone who is directly being lied to and I feel more inclined to fix the wrong at hand. Otherwise, they’re strangers in a strange land and they can navigate that themselves.

          Just like I’m not going to report the randoms online to their employers for their bad life choices but if I knew their boss or someone directly affected by them, that’s a different ball game.

        2. T. Boone Pickens*

          I can’t get behind the small business not having the resources. Literally all you need is a telephone, internet connection and a few bucks. The degree is far and away the easiest thing to verify as either the registar office will offer verification services and there are also websites dedicated to degree verification.

          I will grant you that employment verification can be trickier especially if it’s claimed that Larisa worked for other small businesses that have closed down.

  51. MMB*

    Hi OP, let me start by saying that I don’t condone lying and I ‘d be just as frustrated as you are, but I think there are two very important questions you should ask yourself before you make a decision.

    1. What is your friend’s motivation for telling you all of this?
    2. If you were a frightened, desperate woman what lengths would you go to to provide for yourself and your children? (Not sure if she has kids…)

    I’m not excusing her behavior, nor suggesting that you excuse it, only that you take a moment think about it from a different perspective. After that go with your conscience. There’s no absolute right answer here – I know others will disagree, but for me there’s a whole lot of gray here.

    1. Myrin*

      I’m not a fan of your second question and its same sentiment which has been brought up in numerous comments above.

      First of all, there is absolutely no evidence that prior to landing this job, Larisa was “a frightened, desperate woman” (and you yourself acknowledge that we don’t know whether she has kids, so it seems a bit like empathy-fishing to even mention the children that need to be provided for) – all we know is that after her divorce, she started looking for a job because she couldn’t rely on her husband’s income anymore. We also know that she complained “about the difficulty of job searching when every job requires a degree, experience, etc. and lament[ed] that she does not have either” which, on its face, seems like pretty normal jobseeker talk to me and doesn’t automatically reek of fear or desperation.

      I might be wrong about this, of course. Larisa might well have been destitute and in dire financial straits, one month away from having drained all her savings completely after having camped out for months in her best friend’s basement. But the point is: I don’t know that. None of us do. It might well have been completely different.

      But I find it interesting – not surprising, since this happens pretty regularly on letters where a lot of people identify with one party – that a lot of comments are willing to make up an entire tragic backstory for Larisa – the hypothetical starving children in your comment are the perfect example of this – but don’t in the same vein make up other hypothetical candidates who might also have been in even more dire situations but who lost out against Larisa because they were honest about, say, their lack of degree or work history.

      Obviously I don’t know if such candidates existed. Larisa might well have been the only applicant for all I know. But we don’t know. And that’s the point. But somehow many comments are extending their hypotethicals only in one direction, one that presents Larisa in a positive light, when there are just as many – maybe more, even! – which would shine a decidedly negative light on her.

      1. This is ridiculous*

        Thank you. The lengths people are going to in order to justify Larisa’s conduct are mind-boggling. Someone upthread even speculated that her divorce = her fleeing from an abusive husband. Seriously? Yeah, it sucks that she couldn’t find a job. But you know who else can’t find a job? All the people who actually worked their asses off to earn a degree and build a work history who didn’t get hired at OP’s company because Larisa committed fraud.

        1. Yorick*

          Right? Somebody with a decent but not super impressive work history didn’t get the job because Larisa MADE UP a better one.

    2. Percysowner*

      But what if you were the frightened desperate woman who HAD a degree and 5 years work experience at a low paying job (say retail or fast food) and you lost out to Larisa who had neither because she made her work experience sound so much better than yours?

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Yeah, that’s unfortunate and the company really screwed those people by not doing their due diligence to ensure their requirements were met.