Lie Detector Tests
How can you be certain if a criminal suspect, a job applicant or an employee is lying to you? For decades, polygraph tests (also referred to as lie detectors) were the standard for measuring the accuracy and truthfulness of a person’s statements. You’ve probably seen their use dramatized on television procedurals and court dramas—they involve tracking a person’s blood pressure and perspiration levels while asked a series of questions.
Employers once frequently asked employees and applicants questions about certain matters while they were hooked into polygraph tests. The Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988 significantly cut back on how lie detectors could be used in employment circumstances. However, there are some exceptions, and some types of businesses continue to make use of polygraphs as part of their hiring and employment practices to this day.
Global Data Fusion, LLC works with Louisiana-based companies to provide polygraph testing when called upon to do so. The results can help you feel more secure in your hiring decisions. Let’s take a closer look at when polygraphs can legally be used and how they’re beneficial.
The Legality of Lie Detector Tests in Louisiana
Under the aforementioned Employee Polygraph Protection Act, it is illegal for private companies anywhere in the United States (not just Louisiana) to require or suggest an employee or applicant to submit to a lie detector test. It is also illegal for companies to use, accept or inquire about the results of lie detector tests that had previously been conducted on an applicant, or to take any adverse action (or threaten to take any adverse action) against an employee or applicant who refuses to take such a test.
There are, however, some exceptions. Polygraph tests are allowed to be used for people who are applying for or work jobs in the security industry, or in any field that involves handling drugs (such as pharmacy and medicine). And of course, polygraphs remain legal to be used as parts of criminal investigations, though they are not always admissible for use as courtroom evidence.
However, even with these exceptions, a person still has a federally protected right to written notice of the test at least 48 hours in advance, stating that the person to be tested is a suspect (in criminal cases). The suspicion that is the basis for the test also must be reasonable and provable.
None of the stipulations of the Act, however, apply to government employees or some jobs that deal with national defense.
Why Global Data Fusion, LLC is Your Ideal Partner for Polygraph Testing
Global Data Fusion, LLC has a history of working with other Louisiana-based businesses on a variety of background checks, identity verification and lie detection processes. We are capable of serving as a full HR partner for companies of all types and sizes, packaging numerous services together to give you the most comprehensive background check possible for your hiring practices or aiding in your criminal investigation. We are also capable of scaling those services as your company grows, so you can continue to bring in new employees without hassle or fear.
For more information about polygraph testing and whether or not it is a legally permissible option or your company or organization, we encourage you to contact our team today.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few of the questions we most commonly received about our polygraph testing services.
We have already discussed when and on whom polygraph tests may be administered, but there are also some restrictions in place regarding the format of the testing. Before a detector test is administered, you must read employees and ask them to sign a statement that includes the following:
A list of topics that employers are not allowed to ask, which includes questions about sexual preference, racial issues, political affiliation, lawful labor activities and religious beliefs
An explanation of how the test works and how the test results can be used
A statement that employees have the right to refuse to take the test, and that employers cannot mandate polygraphs as a condition of hiring or continued employment
An explanation of the steps the employee should take if the provided test violated the laws governing how polygraphs can be used
In addition, a person taking a polygraph test has the right to stop the test at any time, and has the right to be asked questions that are not unnecessarily intrusive or otherwise degrading and abusive. The results of the test may only be provided to the employer, the employee, a court or government agency and/or a mediator or arbitrator.
Yes, polygraph testing for employment is legal in Louisiana, so long as it adheres to the guidelines set by federal polygraph laws.
In most cases, yes—the Employee Polygraph Protection Act makes it illegal for employers to ask employees to take tests, and punishes them for asking them to do so or for retaliating against them if the employee refuses. Even in the exception scenarios, an employee can still refuse to take the polygraph test.
The accuracy of polygraph testing has been a controversial subject for many years, which is partially why polygraph evidence is no longer frequently admissible for use in a courtroom setting. While it is true that a person who provides deceptive answers to polygraph questions is more likely to exhibit physiological “tells” indicating a lie, there are also circumstances in which those “tells” could exist simply out of nerves. A person could be answering truthfully but still set off the test, but there are also dishonest people who may be able to avoid giving off these “tells” through practiced deception.
So ultimately, the takeaway should be that the polygraph can be a useful tool, but it is certainly not without faults, and its results shouldn’t be taken on their own without questioning.