Protecting Employees through EPPA

The Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA), which took effect in 1998, is a US federal law that governs private employers’ conduct of lie detector test to its employees. This law does not allow employers to have their employees and applicants be subjected to the test. The law has clearly delineated in its provision the scope and nature of the prohibition.

The law has clearly outlined circumstances that employers should not engage in as a form of compliance to the law. The law firmly disallows employers to use polygraph test in hiring and in imposing discipline. Those who refuse to take the test should also not be discriminated upon. This law, however, allows polygraph testing to applicants in security service firms and pharmaceuticals. In cases when there is an act that caused injury or loss to the business, a polygraph test may be required from the employees.

lie detector test


A salesperson, who worked, in a lingerie store was contacted by the district manager for suspicions of theft after she completed her shift for the day. She was informed that a polygraph test would be conducted to all employees and that included her. However, she was invited to a mandatory meeting conducted by the said manager. It was in that meeting that she was told to undergo a polygraph test and to answer a questionnaire. The employee refused to take the polygraph test and answer the questionnaire. She also refused to resign as what the employer tried to convey. The manager fired the employee and continued to ask her to take the polygraph.


The employee, following her termination, filed suit against the wrongful discharge and violation of the EPPA. It was argued by the district manager, however, that there was no violation of EPPA because no polygraph test was given to the employee. The court ruled that the act of the employer and the district manager against the employee was a violation of the EPPA. The court decided in favor of the employee and emphasized that subjecting an employee to polygraph test becomes justifiable only when there is loss or injury to the business and a statement of the nature and occurrence of the incident, with specificity, has to be released to the employee. In this case, the employer failed.


States, all over the world, have always protected those in the workforce. That is why, in most cases, it is the employee winning cases or suits against the employer. The enactment and implementation of EPPA serves the same purpose. Employees have to be protected from abusive employers. The protection guaranteed by EPPA may be waived in some instances but it is clearly expressed through the decision of the court that subjecting employees to a polygraph test need to be properly coursed and carried out.

On the part of the employees, it is more than enough to read and understand the provisions of EPPA. This is primarily for their own consumption and protection. It would only take an employee’s ignorance for an abusive employer to perpetrate violation.