Falsification of academic credentials is not a new issue in the corporate world. Everyone wants to be recognized. Everyone wants to be admired. Therefore, people of all walks of life misrepresent their credentials most of the time. According to Deborah Parrish (1996), an approximate of 20 to 25 percent of all resumes in the scientific community have at least one major fabrication. This does not include the medical, business, and other communities yet. This fact only shows that the commercial community has encountered the problem many times already. And the problem carries its own proper disciplinary actions and sanctions which vary from different companies and institutions.
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The University of Carolina at Chapel Hill (2012) has varied disciplinary actions regarding proved falsification of academic credentials. An employee who was caught of falsifying his/her credentials may be dismissed, demoted, given a written warning, or be subjected to salary reduction. To determine which disciplinary action to take, the university considers the “sensitivity of the employee’s position, the effect of the false information on the hiring decision, the advantage gained over other applicants, and the effect of the false information on the starting salary” (Credential Falsification section, para. 2). If, for example, the employee who was confirmed of falsifying his/her credentials was holding a sensitive position in the university, they may give him/her a written warning or subject him/her to salary reduction but they cannot just dismiss him/her or demote him/her right away. The action should be wisely resolved to ensure that the institution will not be affected by the disciplinary action. Other employers perform a background check on their employees who are hired for sensitive positions to ensure the suitability of the employee to the applied position.
The Publication of the AAAS Scientific Freedom, Responsibility and Law Program in collaboration with the Committee on Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Professional Society Ethics Group (1996) gives also several measures to an employee who will be caught of falsifying his/her credentials. Their sanctions vary from reprimanding to debarment from getting federal funding for several years. The perpetrator can also be “sued for fraud and misrepresentation and may be prosecuted criminally for embezzlement, theft by deception, false pretenses or impersonation” (Sanctions section, para. 1).
The above examples only fortify the need for a disciplinary action to the presented problem. Institutions and companies who caught an employee falsifying a credential can choose from a vast amount of actions that can be taken against him/her taking in consideration the different factors that will affect both the company and the individual.
In the case of the successful and popular administrator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was discovered of falsifying her academic credentials on her resume thirty years before, the same measures have to be imposed. Although she was nationally recognized for her work, she should be subject to the right disciplinary action. The fact that she had risen to a senior position based on her extensive experience and ability asserts that she was an asset for the company and that resignation may not be a proper or a good judgment. Moreover, she worked for the company for a number of years already, and her contribution in its success is notable. The company, therefore, should give her some considerations. However, the individual has still made an unethical and fraudulent move. Her years of success do not efface the fact she once cheated the company. In response to this, she may be given a letter of reprimand, be subjected to salary reduction, or be demoted as a compensation for her past actions. With this, the public would be aware that every wrong act should be reprimanded. On the other hand, the subject individual would learn from her mistake and the company would not be charged of harsh judgment also.
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