Can a company ask a candidate to take a lie detector test?

The short answer is no. The Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988 (EPPA) banned the use of lie detector tests in private employer recruitment, with just a few rare exceptions. What the Act Says The EPPA forbids private companies from: Asking job applicants to take a lie detector test Asking for the results of any […]

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The short answer is no. The Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988 (EPPA) banned the use of lie detector tests in private employer recruitment, with just a few rare exceptions.

What the Act Says

The EPPA forbids private companies from:

  • Asking job applicants to take a lie detector test
  • Asking for the results of any lie detector test the applicant may have taken in the past
  • Dismissing or discriminating against job applicants who refuse to submit to a polygraph

The Rare Exceptions

The Act doesn’t apply to federal, state, or local government organizations, or to certain jobs relating to national defense. However, even in these sectors, civil service rules may ban the use of lie detectors in the hiring process.

Employers investigating a specific employment-related crime may use lie detector tests in a very limited set of circumstances.

Final Tips

Some states have specific statutes outlawing the use of lie detectors in the hiring process, but these laws are, for the most part, made redundant by the Employee Polygraph Protection Act. However, it’s worth checking with your specific state laws as some states may ban employers from even uttering the phrase “lie detector test” to employees and job seekers.

Helpful Link:

Employee Polygraph Protection Act – American Polygraph Association

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