U.S. Department of Labor Investigation Results in Arizona Medical Clinic Being Cited $15,000 for Illegally Requesting Polygraph Tests
PHOENIX, AZ –An Administrative Law Judge in the Department of Labor ordered West Valley Ear, Nose and Throat – a medical clinic based in Phoenix, Arizona – to pay $15,000 in civil penalties after the employer violated federal law by requesting that five employees submit to polygraph tests.
Investigators with the Department's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) found that West Valley Ear, Nose and Throat - after noticing ongoing cash shortages - requested that the employees take the tests. These circumstances failed to meet the legal exemption requirements of the Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA). WHD also determined the employer attempted to polygraph all five employees illegally when it failed to identify the "reasonable suspicion" it had of the alleged employee responsible for the economic loss. In addition, West Valley Ear, Nose and Throat failed to identify a reasonable suspicion for any of the five employees, another EPPA violation.
"Federal law makes it clear that most employers cannot require their employees to take lie detector tests," said Regional Solicitor Janet Herold, in Los Angeles, California. "There are many other ways to deal with problems, including suspected theft, on the job."
"The U.S. Department of Labor provides many tools to help employers comply with the law and understand how to avoid mistakes like these," said Ruben Rosalez, Wage and Hour Regional Administrator. "We encourage all employers to reach out to us at any time for assistance – we are available to answer any questions they may have."
Enacted in 1988, the EPPA generally prohibits employers from requiring or requesting any employees or job applicants to take a lie detector test, and from discharging, disciplining or discriminating against an employee or prospective employee for refusing to take a test or for exercising other rights under the act. An employer may ask an employee to take a polygraph test only when there is a reasonable suspicion that the worker was involved in misconduct that resulted in economic harm to the employer.
For more information about the EPPA and other laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division, contact the Division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available at www.dol.gov/whd including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by WHD.
WHD provides employers with compliance assistance resources related to the H-1B visa program. For more information about this visa program other laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division, contact the Division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available at www.dol.gov/whd including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by WHD.
WHD's mission is to promote and achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of the Nation's workforce. WHD enforces Federal minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. WHD also enforces the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, wage garnishment provisions of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, and a number of employment standards and worker protections as provided in several immigration related statutes. Additionally, WHD administers and enforces the prevailing wage requirements of the Davis Bacon Act and the Service Contract Act and other statutes applicable to Federal contracts for construction and for the provision of goods and services.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.