Employer Use of Polygraph (lie Detector) Exams

The Employee Polygraph Protection Act limits employer use of lie detector tests.

The Act limits the use of polygraph tests by most private employers. Federal, State and local government employers are exempt from the Act. Private employers in the security business and employers authorized to manufacture, distribute or dispense controlled substances are also exempt.

In general, an employer cannot require or even suggest that an employee or prospective employee take a polygraph test. The only exception is for investigations involving economic loss or injury to the employer’s business. This includes theft, embezzlement, misappropriation, or an act of unlawful industrial espionage or sabotage. The employer must also have a reasonable suspicion that the employee was involved in the incident that is being investigated and the employee must have had access to the property that is the subject of the investigation. If an employer requests that an employee submit to a polygraph test as part of an ongoing investigation, strict requirements must be adhered to regarding notice to the employee, administration of the test, and use of the results. The employer must provide the employee with a statement that provides the basis for requesting the examination that is signed by an authorized representative of the company. The employer must also provide the employee with information about his or her rights and remedies under the Act.

The employee has the right to terminate the test at any time. The employee cannot be asked questions that are degrading or that ask about the employee’s political or religious beliefs, sexual behavior, or legal activities involving unions or labor organizations. Furthermore, the person who administers the test must be a qualified and licensed polygraph examiner who is bonded or carries sufficient liability insurance. The Act also limits the disclosure of the results of the test and the employer’s use of the results. An employer who violates the Act could be subject to a civil penalty of up to $10,000. In addition, an employee or prospective employee who is affected by the employer’s violation of the act can maintain a private civil action for employment, reinstatement, promotion and the payment of lost wages. For more information on the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, consult with an attorney who practices in the areas of Employment Law or Labor Law. Every polygraph examination is administered in a discreet and professional manner.

We have administered thousands of polygraph tests and have more than 20 years of lie detection experience.

We are highly respected and nationally accepted as a polygraph expert.

A detailed written report is provided for every polygraph test and if desired, compelling expert testimony is available for each examination administered.

EPL follows federally approved standards and utilizes state-of-the-art computerized polygraph systems.

Also available are independent assessments of polygraph examinations administered by other polygraphists. This service is to ensure that polygraph examinations are prepared, conducted and documented according to professional standards. Do you have a problem where you need to prove the truth to someone? Maybe you have a situation where you need to learn the truth about someone else. When the need for the truth is important

Forensic Psycho physiologist

Polygraph Services for Attorneys,

Businesses, Government Agencies

and Private Individuals.

These are just some areas in which the use of the polygraph has been proven valuable

• Criminal Defense

• Identify the Guilty

• Clear the Wrongfully Accused

• Verify Information & Statements

• Violent Crimes

• Property Crimes

• Sex Crimes & Allegations of Sexual Misconduct

• Sexual Harassment

• Narcotic Investigations

• Hidden Assets

• Domestic Disputes

• Infidelity Issues

• Insurance Fraud

• Allegations of Child Abuse

• Civil Rights Matters

• Allegations of Official Misconduct

• Allegations of Public Corruption

• Equal Employment Opportunity Matters

• White Collar Crimes

• Missing Persons

• Law Enforcement, Government & Security Screening

• Any Time the Need for the Truth is Important

NOTE: For suspected employee thefts, see the requirements of the Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) of 1988 – click link below



Polygraph Examiner Credentials

Before hiring a polygraph examiner, always find out about their credentials and experience. Ask how long they have been a polygraph examiner. – Ask how many polygraph examinations they have administered. – Find out how many professional polygraph associations they belong to. – Ask if they are qualified as an expert polygraph witness. – Find out how often they attend continuing education courses and find out if they are licensed. If they are experienced and truly professional, they will want you to know about their qualifications and will gladly provide you with this information on their web site or in writing. If this information is not readily available – Ask! The last thing you need is to spend your money on an inaccurate polygraph test. Test results that are inaccurate can cost you a lot more than your money. It can cost you your job, your relationship, your reputation, or in criminal matters…. harm your defense! Always ask for examiner credentials and experiences. DJI

What is a Polygraph?

The term “polygraph” means “many writings.” The name refers to the manner in which selected physiological activities are simultaneously collected and recorded.

There are two basic types of polygraph instruments in use today. There is the analog instrument (the kind where you can see the pens moving over the chart paper) and the more advanced computerized polygraph instruments.

A polygraph instrument will collect physiological data from at least three systems in the human body. Convoluted rubber tubes placed over the examinee’s upper chest and abdominal area will record respiratory activity. Two small metal plates attached to the fingers, will record electro-dermal (sweat gland) activity. A blood pressure cuff or similar device will record cardiovascular activity (blood pressure and pulse).

A polygraph examination will involve three phases. They are the pretest interview phase, the in-test phase and the post-test interview phase. A typical polygraph examination will last two to three hours, sometimes longer.

In the pretest phase, the polygraph examiner will complete required paperwork and talk with the examinee about the test. During this period, the examiner will discuss and review the questions to be asked, discuss the issue being tested on, and familiarize the examinee with the testing procedure and the polygraph instrument.

During the chart collection phase, the examiner will administer the polygraph examination and collect a number of polygraph charts. Following this, the examiner will analyze the charts and render an opinion as to the truthfulness of the person taking the test. The opinion rendered will be one of the following: No Deception Indicated (truthful), Deception Indicated (not truthful), Inconclusive (the examiner is unable to determine truthfulness or deception), or No Opinion (the examination had to be stopped before completion or some abnormality was noted).

In the post-test phase, the examiner will offer the examinee an opportunity to explain physiological responses in relation to one or more questions asked during the test.

NOTE: It is important to state that a polygraph does not include the analysis of physiology associated with the voice. Instruments that claim to record voice stress are not polygraphs and have not been shown to have scientific support.

Why Critics Figures Vary

One of the problems in discussing accuracy figures and the differences between the statistics quoted by proponents and opponents of the polygraph technique is the way that the statistical figures are calculated.

Critics, who often do not understand polygraph testing, classify inconclusive test results as errors.

In the real life setting, an inconclusive test result simply means that the examiner is unable to render a definite opinion. In such cases, a second examination is usually conducted at a later time.

To demonstrate how the inclusion of inconclusive test results can distort accuracy figures, consider the following example:

If 10 polygraph examinations are administered and the examiner is correct in 7 decisions, wrong in 1 and has 2 inconclusive test results, we calculate the accuracy rate as 87.5% (8 definitive results, 7 of which were correct.)

Critics of the polygraph technique would calculate the accuracy rate in this example as 70% (10 examinations with 7 correct decisions.)

Since those who use polygraph testing do not consider inconclusive test results as negative and do not hold them against the examinee, to consider them as errors is clearly misleading and certainly skews polygraph statistics.

Errors in Polygraph Examinations:

The False Positive & the False Negative

While the polygraph technique is highly accurate, errors can occur. Polygraph errors may be caused by the examiner’s failure to properly prepare the examinee for the examination or by a misinterpreting, the physiological data collected during the polygraph examination.

Errors are usually referred to as either false positives or false negatives. A false positive occurs when a truthful examinee is reported as being deceptive. A false negative occurs when a deceptive examinee is reported as truthful.

Since it is recognized that any error is damaging, examiners utilize a variety of procedures to identify the presence of factors, which may cause false responses, and to insure an unbiased review of the polygraph records. These include:

• An assessment of the examinee’s emotional state.

• Medical information about the examinee’s physical condition.

• Specialized tests to identify the overly responsive examinee and to calm the overly nervous.

• Utilizing only validated testing formats and protocol.

• Factual analysis of the case information.

• A thorough pretest interview and a detailed review of the questions.

• Quality control reviews.

Who Gets Results?

According to various state licensing laws and the American Polygraph Association’s Standards and Principles of Practice, polygraph results can be released only to authorized persons. Generally, the individuals who can receive test results are the examinee and anyone specifically designated in writing by the examinee. Such as the person, firm, corporation or governmental agency, which requested the examination and others as, may be required by due process of law.

Admissibility in Court

It is largely the public’s general opinion that polygraph testing results are not allowed in court.

The fact is that polygraph results are admissible in most courts across the country. The Supreme Court has yet to rule on the issue of admissibility so it has been up to individual jurisdictions to allow or disallow them. There are some jurisdictions that have absolute bans on admitting polygraph results, but most will allow them.

Why is this public opinion so widespread? The simple fact is that both the plaintiff and the defendant have to agree on having the results of the test are admissible prior to the examination being conducted.

Since the results of the test are likely to benefit one party and not the other, the likelihood that both parties will agree to admissibility before knowing how it will affect their case is small. Because of this, results of polygraph testing are rarely admitted as evidence.

Information Source: The American Polygraph Association

Integrity – Discreet – Quality – Professionalism

Terminology: Polygraphs, lie detectors, polygraph test, lie detection, polygraph examiners, polygraphist, lie detection service, polygraph testing, polygraph exams, lie detector companies, polygraph agencies, polygraph tests, polygraph examinations, polygraph services.


Marvin Badler

Post Author: mark

2 thoughts on “Employer Use of Polygraph (lie Detector) Exams

    A M

    (February 28, 2010 - 10:17 pm)

    Can someone please answer my Business Law & Ethics questions part 2?
    11. Which actions of a water bottling company would be regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency?

    A. Selling bottling water
    B. Selling empty water bottles
    C. Selling water-bottling equipment
    D. Inventing water-bottling equipment

    13. What is a violation of the Clean Water Act of 1972?

    A. A city drains water from a wetlands area to develop the land.
    B. A municipality restricts use of wetlands within city limits.
    C. A business seeks approval from the Environmental Protection Agency to dredge a river.
    D. A business is contracted to build a bridge over a river.

    24. What would be a violation of an employee’s reight to privacy?

    A. An employer requesting an employee to take a voluntary lie detector test.

    B. an employer keeping records of an employee’s voluntary lie detector test results.

    C. An employer maintaining a polygraph expert on staff.

    D. an employer requiring that an employee submit to a lie detector test.

    25. Which situation is an example of workplace discrimination?

    A. An employee is unhappy over a failed relationship with a coworker.
    B. An employee returning sick leave is placed on light duty based on doctor’s orders.
    C. A private religious school refuses to hire teachers of other religions.
    D. A female employee is refused a promotion after returning from maternity leave.

    27. Which action by an employer does the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 permit?

    A. Refusing to hire an employee over age 60.
    B. Requiring all employees under age 30 to undergo drug testing.
    C. Requiring the company president to retire at age 50.
    D. Requiring employees under age 70 to retire.

    28. When may an employer require a medical exam of a prospective employee under the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990?

    A. When the exam is job related and all prospective employees must undergo the exam.

    B. When the exam is required by the in-house company doctor.

    C. When the exam is needed to determine the extent of the employee’s disability.

    D. When the exam is used to determine reasonable accommodations.

    31. A company has no employment contract in use. The Employee Handbook does state that employees could be fired only by just cause, and then only after warnings, notice, and a hearing. An employee was fired without notice.

    What relationship did the employer have to the employee?

    A. A contractual employment relationship based on the Employee Handbook.

    B. No relationship becasue there was no written employment contract.

    C. An "at will" employment relationship allowing firing at any time.

    D. An implied employment relationship which could be terminated at will.

    32. A 360-degree appraisal conducted at the workplace revealed a serious of weak areas in a ratee’s performance.

    What does this denote?

    A. The ratings are subjective and not relevant to the ratee’s development within the organization.

    B. Individuals who were asked to evaluate the ratee’s performance did not like the ratee and were too critical.

    C. The ratee’s employment should be immediately terminated since it is evident that the employee is not meeting standards and expectations.

    D. The ratee needs to work on the weak areas to improve and to meet standards and expectations.


    (March 1, 2010 - 3:19 am)

    24-d (sometimes, but not always)
    25-d (in most cases, but not always)
    27-all answers are situational in nature. all can be considered correct at times, and all can be considered wrong. depends on the industry and the job requirements
    31-a. but again, this is situation and also depends on the state of operations and residence
    32- very possibly all of the above, but most likely d or b
    References :
    in a personnel management agency for years

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