A woman says she was fired in part for not revealing on her job application that she’d worked at a restaurant where servers wore skimpy uniforms. Heather Kearney of Des Moines, IA, was fired from her job as a criminal intelligence analyst with the state Department of Public Safety.
Her firing came shortly after her supervisors told her they were investigating her for falsification of her job application.
Kearney didn’t list her job at a Hooters restaurant on her application because it wasn’t relevant.
She says when she was interviewed for the state job she was asked if she’d left anything off her application.
Kearney claims she told the interviewer about the job at Hooters and explained why she didn’t include it on the application. The interviewer told her he already knew about the job because it came up in her employment history, according to court documents.
Kearney was hired for the position in March 2007 but was fired in August 2007.
Was there a history of gender discrimination?
A month after being fired, Kearney filed a lawsuit against her former employer for gender discrimination, saying she was turned down for promotions which ultimately went to men, despite her qualifications.
The state Department of Public Safety filed a response denying any discrimination toward Kearney. It said the official reason for her firing was failure to successfully complete a probationary period, which typically lasts six months to one year.
Her lawyer told The Des Moines Register the fact Kearney was a probationary employee isn’t going to change how they pursue the lawsuit. “Discrimination is discrimination, whether you are a probationary employee or not,” said attorney Mike Carroll.
Kearney says she was doing fine at her job. She hadn’t had any disciplinary actions, and her supervisor wrote her a letter of recommendation after she was terminated.
The lawsuit claims an investigation regarding equal pay for men and women within the department also contributed to her dismissal. Another female employee filed a complaint with the department saying she wasn’t getting fair pay compared to male employees.
Kearney says she asked about the formula to determine pay and was told she couldn’t ask about it until after the investigation was over. She says she suspects she was paid less than two men with less education who were hired at the same time she was.
When she was hired, Kearney has 12 years of military experience, a bachelor’s degree in public administration and a master’s degree in international relations with a concentration in national security affairs.
“Bottom line, I felt like I was done wrong and my character was smeared,” said Kearney. “I have a very good professional reputation in the military, and I just don’t want this to smear that.”
It may come down to a court’s decision on whether omitting her work at Hooters amounted to falsification of her job application. If she had claimed work experience that she didn’t have, this might be a more clear-cut case.
What do you think? Is an omission the same as falsification? Should it matter that she mentioned her work at Hooters in a conversation with an interviewer? Let us know your thoughts about this case in the Comments Box below.