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Compliance Assistance By Law - The Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA)

The Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988 (EPPA) inhibits employers from using lie detector tests, either for pre-employment screening or during the course of employment, with certain exemptions. The EPPA also protects employees from discrimination in the case that they refuse to take such a test. The Employment Standards Administration's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) within the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) enforces the EPPA. Additionally, employers must inform their employees of these rights by displaying an EPPA poster in the workplace.

The Employee Polygraph Protection Act applies to most private employers. However, the act does allow polygraph tests to be given to certain types of job applicants such as - but not limited to - potential employees applying with security firms (armored car, alarm, and guard) and those applying as pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors, and dispensers. In addition, the law does not cover federal, state, and local government agencies. In cases where polygraph testing is permitted, the examiner must be licensed, bonded, or have professional liability coverage. The EPPA also have regulations put in place to limit the disclosure of information obtained from test results.

If an employer violates the laws set in place by the EPPA, the Secretary of Labor may evaluate civil penalties up to $10,000 per violation. The Employee Polygraph Protection Act also provides employees the right to file a private lawsuit for any such violations, or file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor. The employer may be liable to the current or potential employee for occupational and/or financial relief such as employment, promotion, and payment of lost wages and benefits.

Useful Links:

The Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) (PDF)
US Code - Chapter 22: Employee polygraph protection
Overview of Regulations for the Employee Polygraph Protection Act



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