Employee Polygraph Protection Act (1988)
The Employee Polygraph Protection Act is a law that was passed in 1988, which states that no privately or publicly owned business can require an applicant to take a polygraph test, nor can they base a hiring decision on the results of any voluntary polygraph testing. In the event of an infraction on this law, the company committing the infraction may be fined up to $10,000 per infraction. The only exceptions to this law are as follows: Pharmaceutical companies; Armored car positions; Security officer positions; Employment for a government agency; Federal contractor or sub-contractor; Federal Bureau of Investigations; National Defense positions; as well as National Security positions.
Today we’re going to talk a little bit about the Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988, and just want to go over the basics of it. In 1988 this act was passed, and it essentially said that individuals who are seeking employment are not required to submit to a polygraph test, nor can employers base their hiring decision on, or compel someone to take, a polygraph test.
The results of the test, nor whether or not they take the test can be a requirement for employment for the average worker. However, there are some things that are excluded from this act, or areas in which the employer can base their hiring decision upon, or compel, the taking of a polygraph, and I want to go over those exceptions now.
Just remember, the act covers and protects individuals seeking employment from being required by the person hiring to submit to a polygraph test, and the employer cannot base their hiring decision on, or compel, polygraph testing. That’s the basic idea of the Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988.
However, in the following areas this act does not cover, so an employer can base their hiring decision upon it and can compel a polygraph in these areas: anyone working with pharmaceuticals, armored car work, or security officers. There’s a private employer who wants to hire someone to work pharmaceuticals, armored cars, or security officers, this act does not prevent those employers from requiring, and basing their hiring decision upon the results of, polygraph testing.
Pharmaceuticals, armored cars, and security officers in private companies can be compelled and required to take a polygraph, and the employer can base their hiring decision based upon the outcome of that polygraph test, in these areas. Everyone else, if they’re a private employer, cannot, because of this act, compel someone to take a polygraph test, nor can they make their hiring decision based upon the results of that polygraph test if the person willingly submits to it, basically.
Now, things that the act does not cover—areas that the act doesn’t speak to at all—are government agencies. No government agency is considered a private employer, and therefore, all government agencies related to the FBI, national defense, and national security may compel, and base their hiring decision upon, polygraph testing.
Government agencies related to the FBI, national defense, or national security are not covered by this act at all. Also, federal contractors and federal sub-contractors related to the FBI, national defense, and national security can also be compelled to take polygraphs, and the hiring decision based upon the results of that polygraph testing.
The federal contractors and sub-contractors may be considered private employers, not direct government employees, however, since they are working for the FBI—or contracted to provide services to the FBI—national defense, or national security, this act does not prevent those employers from requiring and compelling polygraph testing and basing their hiring decisions on the results of those tests.
Just to recap, oh and I’ll just give this last concluding thought here is that if someone breaks this act, they compel the taking of a test and make it necessary for employment, or they base their hiring decision upon the results of the test, they can pay a penalty up to 10,000 dollars for each infraction of this act.
Individuals who are seeking employment from a private company, those seeking employment, cannot be required to submit to a polygraph test, nor can the private employer base their hiring decision upon the results of that test, if the person willingly submits to it, and they’re not allowed to compel it. They can ask, “Would you be willing to take a polygraph test?” If the person says, “Sure,” once again, they cannot base their hiring decision on the results of that test, nor can they compel the person and say, “You will take a polygraph or we won’t give you the job,” if they’re a private employer.
However, there are three excluded areas: they work in pharmaceuticals, armored cars, or security they are permitted to ignore this act and give polygraph testing and base their hiring on it. Then, once again, government agencies not covered, federal contractors or sub-contractors working for the FBI, national defense, or national security. With each infraction receiving a penalty of up to 10,000 dollars. This is just a basic overview of the Employee Polygraph Protection Act.