A polygraph, or lie detector test, hasn't been allowed in court as evidence, reflecting skepticism of its reliability. More than ever, employers are seeking information about the people they hire and decide to use lie detector tests as a pre-employment screening tool. However, the same questions about the test's reliability makes it an unacceptable way to screen applicants.
Overall, employers can't require a potential employee take a test, although the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, (EPPA) lists the few employers and the types of job applicants who may be expected to take them.
As an employee:
- You have the right to a written notice prior to agreeing to a polygraph exam
- You have the right to refuse a polygraph exam
- You have the right to terminate or discontinue a polygraph exam
- You have the right to non-disclosure or privacy in the results
Further, every employer subject to the EPPA is required to post an explanation of the EPPA in a conspicuous place, usually in a break room or some other common area.
Required Polygraph Tests
There are specific situations that may require a polygraph test. The employer must be a federal agency, a state agency, a local agency or a school or school district. Certain private employers may require lie detector tests as a hiring requirement. For example, armored car companies may insist that certain employees undergo a lie detector test due to the sensitive nature of the position.
Even if an employer requires a lie detector test, specific requirements about who may administer the test and under very specific circumstances and with full disclosure apply.
Additionally, employers can only request a current employee to take a polygraph exam when specific conditions, such as during an investigation, have been met. If an employee refuses a request or suggestion, the employer can't discipline or fire the person based on their refusal to take the exam.
If you've been forced to take a lie detector test as a job requirement or feel it wasn't administered correctly, you can file a lawsuit for violations of the EPPA. Contact the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor site for EPPA complaints.
How a Lawyer Can Help
For most of us, having a job is a necessity. The very reason that there are federal and state laws protecting job applicants is evidence of this reality. If your rights have been violated, you may be able to file a lawsuit, and a lawyer on your side will become important.
Questions for Your Attorney
- How can I find out whether the EPPA protects me?
- Can I file an action against this employer?
- What remedies may I seek if I file a lawsuit?
- How can I be certain that this information will not affect my other job applications?
- How can I prevent disclosure of polygraph results?