In a recent High Court decision in the case of Genockey and A Bank (2017) IEHC, Mr Justice Eager found that Ms Glenda Genockey was not entitled to damages as a result of a Bank having rescinded a job offer.
In this case, Ms Genockey claimed that she was entitled to damages in circumstances where the Bank rescinded a job offer on the receipt of qualifications which were at odds with those presented in Ms Genockey’s CV.
Ms Genockey had stated in her CV that she had achieved 3 honours and 4 passes in her Leaving Certificate results. In reality, Ms Genockey had actually achieved 4 passes and 3 fails, all at pass level. Ms Genockey was subsequently invited for interview, to which she was required to bring a completed application form and original proof of her qualifications. She omitted to bring the latter to the interview with her.
Following the interview Ms Genockey was verbally informed that she had been successful at the interview. While the Bank could not recall whether Ms Genockey was verbally informed at this stage that her appointment was subject to compliance with certain pre-employment requirements, the Bank gave evidence that it was the standard practise of the Bank to inform candidates of this at offer stage. However, Ms Genockey claimed that she was told that the offer of employment was unconditional.
Importantly, the application form, which was signed by Ms Genockey, provided that: “An offer of employment is subject to verification of education qualifications…Any deliberate misrepresentation or omission could result in the withdrawal of any offer of employment (if successful), or in dismissal should employment have commenced.”
The formal offer of employment which was also issued to Ms Genockey subsequent to the verbal offer of employment stated that: “This offer is subject to…verification of your qualifications and the information you have provided on the Application Form.”
After receipt of the formal offer, Ms Genockey provided her results to the Bank and the offer of employment was subsequently rescinded on the basis that Ms Genockey had failed maths in her Leaving Cert.
Ms Genockey alleged that the Bank represented to her that the offer of employment was unconditional which caused her to hand in her notice to her then employer. On the other hand, the Bank argued that it was made very clear to Ms Genockey that the offer was subject to several requirements. Both the initial application form and the formal offer of employment provided for this in writing. Justice Eager accepted that Ms Genockey had overstated her Leaving Certificate results in error; however he concluded that it was made evident to her at all times that the offer was conditional on meeting certain criteria. The outcome of the case may well have been different but for the existence of these statements in the offer of employment and application form.
The decision emphasises the importance for employers of ensuring that pre-employment criteria are clearly communicated to candidates and complied with prior to making any offer of employment. Any offer of employment, verbal or otherwise, should clearly state that the offer is conditional on certain background checks, whether reference checks or qualification checks, and that any offer may be rescinded on foot of the completion of these checks. Ideally any reference checks or qualification checks should be carried out before the job offer is communicated to the candidate.