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Polygraph Tests in the Workplace

Author Yuriy Moshes

Life is hard enough and working for an employer or difficult boss does not make life any easier. Accordingly, should your employer make accusations against you for, say example, alleged theft, sexual harassment, drug use, or some sort of deception, and asks or requires you to take some sort of polygraph test, you do have certain rights as an employee. This article shall address polygraph tests in the workplace, the employee polygraph protection act and the accompanying employee polygraph protection that is provided. You are entitled to rights for a wrongful termination if you’re forced to choose between the polygraph or discharge, discipline or discrimination for refusing.

What Is a Lie Detector and How Does It Work?

A polygraph lie detector test, popularly referred to as just a lie detector test, is a device or procedure that measures and records several physiological indicators such as blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and skin conductivity while a person is asked and answers a series of questions. How polygraph works?

During a polygraph interview, instead of psychological responses being reviewed, as the employee or prospective employee is questioned about a certain event or incident through certain testing procedure and control questions, the polygraphs measure that person’s heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate and electro-dermal activity (sweatiness, in this case of the fingers) change in comparison to normal levels. Fluctuations may indicate that a person is being deceptive, but exam results are open to interpretation by the examiner. This means that the polygraph test meaning does not necessarily indicate accuracy, which means that polygraph examinations of candidates for lie detector test job interviews are legally questionable at best.

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For this reason, there are certain rights one has as an employee should you refuse such a test and are discriminated against or terminated as a result. An experienced employment law attorney will be able to advise you of your rights and what actions you can take against your employer.

Can You Force Someone to Take a Lie Detector Test?

Not necessarily. According to the department of labor, under the federal polygraph protection act, the polygraph act, or the employee polygraph protection act, a private employer may not”

  • require, request, suggest or cause any employee or job applicant to submit to a lie detector test;
  • use, accept, refer to, or inquire about the results of any lie detector test conducted on an employee or job applicant; or
  • dismiss, discipline, discriminate against, or even threaten to take action against any employee or job applicant who refuses to take a lie detector test; and
  • prohibits employers from discriminating against or firing those who claim its protections.

Under the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, commonly referred to as the EPPA, the employer must provide federal polygraph protection notice or other written notice by posting an EPPA poster through use of the employee polygraph protection act poster in the workplace, particularly in a manufacturing applicant testing setting. If this is not posted, that employee may contact law enforcement by filing a complaint.

employee polygraph protection act

The Employee Polygraph Protection Act does not apply if you work for the government. Again, it only applies to private employers. Furthermore, the Act does permit the use of lie detector tests in some areas of employment. When are lie detectors used? What jobs require polygraph testing? Are there jobs that require polygraph test? Who can administer a polygraph test? Yes, for example, if you have a job in the security industry you may have to submit to a polygraph test. In addition, if your employer is investigating a specific employment related crime, there are circumstances where a polygraph test may be permitted.

Subject to Act, What Jobs Require Polygraph Tests?

Subject to restrictions, when it comes to pre employment screening for a employee or job applicant, the employee polygraph protection act permits polygraph testing to be administered to certain job applicants of security service firms (armored car, alarm, and guard) and of pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors and dispensers.

An experienced employment law attorney can advise you further as to what jobs are exempt from the Act and whether yours specifically applies.

What About Lie Detector NY, Polygraph NY, or Polygraph NYC? Do You Have to Take a Lie Detector Test?

Although the federal Employee Polygraph Act protects employees in the private sector, each state has its own polygraph testing laws, polygraph laws by state, polygraph for employment, and a polygraph interview. However, when it comes to the state of New York, the use of polygraph tests to screen applicants is illegal for all employers, for both private and public, no matter what the relevant questions asked are. Under N.Y. Lab. Law § § 733 to 739, Employer may not require, request, suggest, permit, or use results of a lie detector test. Accordingly, polygraph examinations in New York are not permissible, and the employer cannot request any employee to undergo polygraph tests to be administered during the course of employment, or risk discharge discipline or discriminate.

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Should you find yourself in a predicament where your employer is forcing you to take a polygraph test, consult an employment law attorney immediately. They can advise you on what your options are and how to deal with your employer.

What to Do If Employer Asks You to Take Lie Detector Test

Remember, just because your employer requires or requests you take a lie detector test or polygraph test, that does not mean you have to comply. Moreover, if you are terminated for refusing to do so, you have employment rights that entitle you to be compensated for wrongful termination. You need an experienced employment law attorney to explain your rights and analyze your situation.

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The Law Office of Yuriy Moshes has the experienced employment law attorneys who are knowledgeable about employment law. Their law offices practice throughout the New York City area including all its boroughs (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island) as well as Northern New Jersey, Long Island, and Upstate New York.

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