Pittsburgh Public Official Resigns over Resume Questions

By Michael Klazema on 8/4/2016

According to recent reports, there is an increased focus in the employment world on double- and triple-checking every resume. Companies want to avoid hiring applicants who might be lying about one or more elements of their professional or educational experience. Without such due diligence, reports warn, employers could risk potential PR nightmares as details of applicants that they failed to dig up during the background check stage come to light.

A recent case in Pittsburgh highlights how missed details about an applicant's professional past can bloom into headlines. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority ended its search for a new director last week, choosing K. Charles Griffin for the job with a unanimous vote. The job comes with significant levels of responsibility and a salary of $190,000 per year.

The day after the PWSA chose Griffin to lead the department, questions of Griffin's professional past started circulating locally. Griffin told the board of the PWSA that he had resigned from a previous job as the general manager of the Beaufort-Jasper Water and Sewer Authority in South Carolina. He currently serves as the county administrator of King William County in Virginia.

In actuality, Griffin was terminated from his position with the Beaufort-Jasper Water and Sewer Authority in January 2013. His firing was a matter of public record. When the issue came to light in Pittsburgh, it was because someone had discovered the minutes from a January 2013 meeting of the Beaufort-Jasper Water and Sewer Authority Board of Directors. As the minutes note, the Board of Directors voted to terminate Griffin from his post as general manager during the meeting. The minutes do not explain why Griffin was fired but they prove that the Board of Directors voted unanimously to remove him.

As coverage indicates, the Beaufort-Jasper job was similar to the position that Griffin was set to take on in Pittsburgh. As a result, when the meeting minutes surfaced and proved that he had been fired from that job, locals and officials alike started to question whether he was the right man to lead Pittsburgh's water and sewer department. Griffin has subsequently withdrawn his name from consideration and will not take the job

The PSWA says that they did run both background checks and reference checks on Griffin, but didn't find anything to suggest he hadn't been honest on his resume or in interviews.


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