According to a recent ruling reported in Wolters Kluwer’s Employment Law Daily, the federal Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) prohibits an employer from requiring an employee to take a lie detector test unless the employer specifically identifies the reasons for the examination.
In Amarosa v. Doctor John’s, Inc., a case before a federal district court in Utah, the plaintiff worked as a salesperson for a lingerie store. After she completed one of her shifts, her district manager contacted her and accused her of stealing, requiring her to undergo a polygraph test and complete a questionnaire. When the plaintiff refused to do either, she was terminated and later filed a lawsuit alleging that she was wrongfully discharged.
Unconvinced by the defendant’s argument that the EPPA did not apply because no polygraph test was actually given and that the district manager was not authorized to administer a polygraph examination, the court ruled in favor of the plaintiff on her motion for summary judgment, concluding that the employer’s actions constituted a violation of the Act and that her termination was unlawful.
The court held that the EPPA does permit lie detector tests in certain instances of economic loss or injury to the employer’s business, but only if the employer gives the examinee a written statement setting forth the specific instance under investigation and the specific basis for investigating the employee, neither of which was done in the Amarosa case.
If your employer has asked you to submit to a polygraph examination, putting you at risk of losing your job, please contact the attorneys in Sommers Schwartz’s Employment Litigation Group to discuss your rights.