Lie Detector Tests for Employment

lie detector test
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The Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) prohibits most private employers from using lie detector tests, whether the use is for pre-employment screening or during the course of employment. Furthermore, employers are not allowed to require or request applicants and employees to take a lie detector test. The law, however, does not override federal, state, and local governments.

When Employers Can Require a Lie Detector Test

Employers generally may not require or request a job applicant or employee to take a lie detector test, or discharge, discipline, or discriminate against an employee or job applicant for refusing to take a lie detector test. Employers are also legally unable to request results from a lie detector test. This is the case for most private employers, but the law is waived for some employers such as security firms, pharmaceutical companies, dispensaries, etc. 

Exceptions to The Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA)

Lie detector tests can be administered under the following circumstances:

  • Polygraph (a type of lie detector) tests to be administered to certain job applicants of security service firms (armored car, alarm, and guard) and of pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors and dispensers.
  • Subject to restrictions, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act permits polygraph testing of certain employees of private firms who are reasonably suspected of involvement in a workplace incident (theft, embezzlement, etc.) that resulted in specific economic loss or injury to the employer.

    Rights of the Employee

    The same Act states that employees are legally entitled to employment without the expectations of taking a lie detector test. For those regions that do allow tests, there are strict provisions before, after, and during the test. Employees are also able to reach out if an employer or potential employer is violating any part of the act.

    Legally Required Notice

    Before the lie detector test commences, the employee is legally entitled to basic information surrounding the incident being investigated. This includes what happened, if there was any loss or injury in the situation, what was taken or missing, why the employee is thought to have been involved, etc. The employer is also required to provide plenty of time for the employee to seek independent counsel before the test, a written description of how the test will go, and an explicit list of the employee’s rights.

    Suggested Reading: Pre-Employment Testing and Screening | Employment Discrimination Laws