A lot of people are unfamiliar with the laws protecting them from employers, either prospective or actual. For example, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) of 1998 protects employees or potential employees from being forced to take a lie detector test for almost all private businesses. It prevents employers from forcing applicants to take polygraph tests, requiring current employees to take such tests, or punishing employees for a failure to take such tests.
In most circumstances, if your employer attempts to make you take a lie detector test, he is in violation of the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, and you are in your legal right to seek compensation. Many people find it helpful to engage a qualified employment attorney to represent them when employers have wronged them, and you may want to consider doing so. Even if the employer is clearly in the wrong, you may be in for a court battle to uphold your rights.
Exceptions to the Rule
As with all laws, there are a few exceptions to the rule. Government agencies are within their rights to screen any employees or potential employees with lie detector tests, for understandable reasons. Also, many security and defense companies are exempt from the EPPA, because the very nature of their work may require complete secrecy. In certain cases, pharmaceutical companies mandate that their employees take lie detector tests, but only if these employees are working in certain fields.
Additionally, an employer can require a polygraph test if he or she has a reasonable belief that an employee is involved in gross misconduct in the workplace. If the employee has been suspected of committing fraud, embezzlement, or a similar crime that tarnishes the name of the employer and is considered a serious crime, the employer is legally able to administer a lie detector test.
If the employer does demand a polygraph test in this situation, he or she is legally obligated to retain the results of that test for at least three years, and is barred except under very specific circumstances from releasing the information of that test. However, the employer can release this information to governmental agencies or courts without requiring a court order. It is important to know your rights as an employee in case they are being violated without you knowing it.