The Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) prohibits most private employers from using lie detector tests, either for pre-employment screening or during the course of employment. Employers generally may not require or request any employee or job applicant to take a lie detector test, or discharge, discipline, or discriminate against an employee or job applicant for refusing to take a test or for exercising other rights under the Act. Employers may not use or inquire about the results of a lie detector test or discharge or discriminate against an employee or job applicant on the basis of the results of a test, or for filing a complaint, or for participating in a proceeding under the Act. Subject to restrictions, the Act permits polygraph (a type of lie detector) tests to be administered to certain job applicants of security service firms (armored car, alarm, and guard) and of pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors and dispensers.
Subject to restrictions, the Act also permits polygraph testing of certain employees of private firms who are reasonably suspected of involvement in a workplace incident (theft, embezzlement, etc.) that resulted in specific economic loss or injury to the employer. Where polygraph examinations are allowed, they are subject to strict standards for the conduct of the test, including the pretest, testing and post-testing phases. An examiner must be licensed and bonded or have professional liability coverage. The Act strictly limits the disclosure of information obtained during a polygraph test.
- Employment Law Guide: Lie Detector Tests
- Fact Sheet #36: Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988 (PDF)
- Fact Sheet #44: Visits to Employers (PDF)
Applicable Laws and Regulations
- 29 USC 2001 - Employee Polygraph Protection Act
Civil Money Penalty Inflation Adjustments
Starting in 2016, agencies across the federal government must adjust their penalties for inflation each year. Below is a table that reflects the adjustments that have occurred for penalties under this statute. For more information on the penalty adjustments, go here.
|Type of Violation||Statutory Citation||CFR Citation||Maximum Civil Monetary Penalty on or before 1/15/2020||Maximum Civil Monetary Penalty on or after 1/16/2020|
|(1) Requiring, requesting, suggesting or causing an employee or prospective employee to take a lie detector test or using, accepting, referring to or inquiring about the results of any lie detector test of any employee or prospective employee, other than as provided in the Act or part 801;
(2) Taking an adverse action or discriminating in any manner against any employee or prospective employee on the basis of the employee's or prospective employee's refusal to take a lie detector test, other than as provided in the Act or part 801;
(3) Discriminating or retaliating against an employee or prospective employee for the exercise of any rights under the Act;
(4) Disclosing information obtained during a polygraph test, except as authorized by the Act or part 801;
(5) Failing to maintain the records required by the Act or part 801;
(6) Resisting, opposing, impeding, intimidating, or interfering with an official of the DOL during the performance of an investigation, inspection, or other law enforcement function under the Act or part 801;
(7) Violating any other provision of the Act or part 801.
|29 USC 2005(a)||29 CFR 801.42(a)||$21,039||$21,410|