The Department of Labor administers and enforces the Employee
Polygraph Protection Act of 1988 (the Act) through the Wage and Hour
Division of the Employment Standards Administration. The Act
generally prevents employers engaged in interstate commerce from
using lie detector tests either for pre-employment screening or
during the course of employment, with certain exemptions. The Act,
signed by the President on June 27, 1988, became effective on
December 27, 1988.
Under the Act, the Secretary of Labor is directed to distribute a
notice of the Act's protections, to issue rules and regulations, and
to enforce the provisions of the Act. The Act empowers the Secretary
of Labor to bring injunc- tive actions in U.S. district courts to
restrain violations, and to assess civil money penalties up to
$10,000 against employers who violate any provision of the Act.
Employers are required to post notices summarizing the protections of
the Act in their places of work.
A lie detector includes a polygraph, deceptograph, voice stress
analyzer, psycho- logical stress evaluator or similar device (whether
mechanical or electrical) used to render a diagnostic opinion as to
the honesty or dishonesty of an individual.
A polygraph means an instrument that records continuously, visually,
permanently, and simultaneously changes in cardiovascular,
respiratory and electrodermal patterns as minimum instrumentation
standards and is used to render a diagnostic opinion as to the
honesty or dishonesty of an individual.
An employer shall not:
require, request, suggest or cause an employee or prospective
employee to take or submit to any lie detector test.
use, accept, refer to, or inquire about the results of any lie
detector test of an em- ployee or prospective employee.
discharge, discipline, discriminate against, deny employment or
promotion, or threaten to take any such action against an employee or
prospective employee for refusal to take a test, on the basis of the
results of a test, for filing a complaint, for testifying in any
proceeding or for exercising any rights afforded by the Act.
Federal, State and local Governments are excluded. In addition, lie
detector tests administered by the Federal Government to employees of
Federal contractors engaged in national security intelligence or
counter-intelligence functions are exempt. The Act also includes
limited exemptions where polygraph tests (but no other lie detector
tests) may be administered in the private sector, subject to certain
to employees who are reasonably suspected of involvement in a
workplace incident that results in economic loss to the employer and
who had access to the property that is the subject of an
to prospective employees of armored car, security alarm, and
security guard firms who protect facilities, materials or operations
affecting health or safety, national security, or currency and other
like instruments; and
to prospective employees of pharmaceutical and other firms
authorized to manufacture, distribute, or dispense controlled
substances who will have direct access to such controlled substances,
as well as current employees who had access to persons or property
that are the subject of an ongoing investigation.
Qualifications Of Examiners
An examiner is required to have a valid and current license if
required by a State in which the test is to be conducted, and must
maintain a minimum of $50,000 bond or professional liability
Employee/Prospective Employee Rights
An employee or prospective employee must be given a written notice
explaining the employ- yee's or prospective employee's rights and the
limitations imposed, such as prohibited areas of questioning and
restrictions on the use of test results. Among other rights, an
employee or prospective employee may refuse to take a test, terminate
a test at any time, or decline to take a test if he/she suffers from
a medical condition. The results of a test alone cannot be disclosed
to anyone other than the employer or employee/ prospective employee
without their consent or, pursuant to court order, to a court,
Government agency, arbitrator or mediator.
Under the exemption for ongoing investigations of work place
incidents involving economic loss, a written or verbal statement must
be provided to the employee prior to the polygraph test which
explains the specific incident or activity being investigated and the
basis for the employer's reasonable suspicion that the employee was
involved in such incident or activity.
Where polygraph examinations are permitted under the Act, they are
subject to strict standards concerning the conduct of the test,
including the pretest, testing and post-test phases of the
Civil actions may be brought by an employee or prospective employee
in Federal or State court against employers who violate the Act for
legal or equitable relief, such as employment reinstatement,
promotion, and payment of lost wages and benefits. The action must
be brought within 3 years of the date of the alleged violation.
For more information, get in touch with the nearest office of the
Wage and Hour Division, listed in most telephone directories under
U.S. Government, Department of Labor.
This is one of a series of fact sheets highlighting U.S. Department
of Labor Programs. It is intended as a general description only and
does not carry the force of legal opinion.
Brought to you by - The 'Lectric Law Library
The Net's Finest Legal Resource For Legal Pros & Laypeople Alike.