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Posted 6 September 2018
by Stephen Jennings

References from a galaxy far, far away

Man at desk with tablet

A recent Employment Tribunal case has highlighted the need for employers to take great care to check references provided to them. The case of Francis-McGann v West Atlantic UK Limited is a fairly extreme example – in that case, Mr Francis Mc-Gann applied for a job as a pilot with West Atlantic UK Limited, which is a commercial freight airline operator. Mr Francis-McGann claimed in his job application to have experience as a Captain, providing a reference in support of his application purporting to be from a Mr Desilijic Tiure. For Star Wars fans, Desilijic Tiure is, in fact, another name for the character Jabba the Hutt. In reliance on this reference (whether by using an old Jedi mind trick or not the case report does not record) Mr Francis-McGann was hired and was given expensive training by West Atlantic before they discovered the truth.

Lying or exaggerating in job applications seems to be increasingly common – one US report indicated last year that 85 percent of employers had caught applicants doing this. While your job applicants may not necessarily be undertaking such a high-risk role as a commercial airline pilot, you will still want them to have the skills and experience you require (and no-one wants a dishonest employee).

There is a silver lining to the clouds in West Atlantic’s sky – the Tribunal ordered Mr Francis-McGann to repay his training costs and gave a strong indication it was considering a costs order against him. As Jabba the Hutt’s history might have shown, crime really doesn’t pay.

If you need any advice regarding employment law, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with our experienced team of employment law solicitors in Exeter.

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About the author

Stephen Jennings

Partner and Solicitor

Partner in the litigation department specialising in employment law, he is the relationship manager for many of the firm's employment clients