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¡No Se Deje!
The Federal Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) was enacted to stop employers from requiring job applicants and employees to take “Lie Detector” tests. It has been estimated that in the 10 years prior to the law, over 3 million employees were unfairly required to take lie detector (polygraph) tests. As a result, it is believed that approximately 300,000 employees were judged as “liars” and denied employment or fired. The U. S. Congress passed this law after testimony by a majority of experts that agree that these machines do not measure the truth or falsity of a statement but rather changes in blood pressure, breath rate, and perspiration rate.
Under the EPPA, employers cannot “require, request, suggest, or cause an employee or job applicant to take any type of lie detector test. Employers cannot use, accept, refer to, or inquire about the results of any lie detector test of an employee or job applicant. And, employers cannot discharge (fire), discipline, discriminate against, deny employment or promotion to, or threaten to take any such action against an employee or job applicant for refusing to take a lie detector test or for the results of any such test.
The prohibition of using lie detector tests applies to private employers only. Employees of the Federal, State, and local governments (Cities and Counties) are not protected by the EPPA. And, private employers are permitted to use lie detector tests when “employees are reasonably suspected of being involved in a workplace incident that results in economic loss to the employer”. This usually involves theft or damage to company property. The employee can refuse to take the test, can terminate the test at any time, or decline to take the test if he/she suffers from a medical condition. The employer must establish that the employee had access to the missing or damaged property.
Examiners that administer the lie detector tests must be licensed in most States and must have a minimum $50,000 bond or professional liability insurance policy to compensate any victims of their negligence. And, prior to the test, the employee must be given a written statement explaining the specific details of the incident being investigated and the reason that the employee is suspected of involvement.
Employees and job applicants can file civil lawsuits in Federal or State Courts against employers that violate the law. Legal remedies available to victims include reinstatement to the job, given a previously denied promotion and payment of lost wages and benefits. Lawsuits for violating the EPPA must be filed within 3 years of the violation. And, employers who violate this law can be fined up to $10,000.00
Even employees that are not fired can file a claim if they can prove that the employer “used or referred to” the results of a lie detector test. And, even if an employee agrees to submit to a lie detector test in cases of economic loss, he must be given a list of the questions that will be asked. ¡NO SE DEJE! ®
Jess J. Araujo, Esq.