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Can employers require you to take a lie detector test?

Employers have a lot of options at their disposal for determining whether an employee is a good fit for their company or not. While they can use background checks and certain testing, most employers can’t use a polygraph for screening employees or during the course of a person’s employment.

The Employee Polygraph Protection Act stops most employers from being able to use lie detector tests as a condition of hiring or for termination or discipline purposes, partly because it’s considered discriminatory. Of course, there are some exceptions to this.

When can an employer require a polygraph?

Polygraph tests are approved for some job applicants. These include those who work in pharmaceutical manufacturing, distribution and dispensing. Certain applicants for positions in security firms, including guards, armored car and alarm companies, can also be required to undergo a polygraph exam.

There are also instances in which an employee may be tested if there has been an incident in the workplace that led to the business suffering an economic loss. This is sometimes the case for individuals who are primary suspects for cases involving things like embezzlement or theft. There are very strict restrictions for when these tests are appropriate and allowable.

Who can administer the test?

Only someone who is licensed and bonded can administer a lie detector test. The disclosure of the test results are also strictly limited.

Anyone who’s being asked to take a polygraph test for their job should determine whether it’s legal for the employer to make that demand. If it isn’t lawful for them to do that, you may have legal options available.

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