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Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988 (EPPA)
The Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988 (EPPA) generally prevents employers from using lie detector tests, either for pre-employment screening or during the course of employment, with certain exemptions. 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. In addition, employers are required to display the EPPA poster in the workplace for their employees. The Employment Standards Administration's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) within the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) enforces the EPPA.
Who is Covered
Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) is administered by the Wage and Hour
Division (WHD). The EPPA applies to most private employers. The law does not
cover federal, state, and local government agencies.
The EPPA prohibits most private employers from using lie detector tests, either
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.
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.
EPPA provides that employees have a right to employment opportunities without
being subjected to lie detector tests, unless a specific exemption applies.
Where polygraph examinations are allowed, they are subject to strict standards
at the pre-test, testing, and post-testing stages. Specific notices must be
given to employees or prospective employees. The Act also provides employees the
right to file a lawsuit for violations of the Act. In addition, the Wage and
Hour Division accepts complaints of alleged EPPA violations.
Recordkeeping, Reporting, Notices and Posters
Notices and Posters
Poster. Every employer subject to
EPPA shall post and keep posted on its premises a notice explaining the Act. The
notice must be posted in a prominent and conspicuous place in every
establishment of the employer where it can readily be observed by employees and
applicants for employment. There is no size requirement for the poster.
Notices. There are specific notices
that must be given to examinees and examiners in instances where polygraph tests
polygraph test is administered pursuant to the economic loss or injury
exemption, the employer is required to provide the examinee with a statement
prior to the test, in a language understood by the examinee, which fully
explains the specific incident or activity being investigated and the basis for
testing particular employees. The statement must contain, at a minimum, the
- An identification with particulars on the specific economic loss or injury to the business of the employer
- A description of the employee’s access to the property that is the subject of the investigation
- A detailed description of the basis of the employer’s reasonable suspicion that the employee was involved in the incident or activity under investigation
signature of a person (other than the polygraph examiner) authorized to legally
bind the employer
employer who requests an employee or prospective employee to submit to a
polygraph examination, pursuant to the ongoing investigation, drug manufacturer,
or security services EPPA exemptions, must provide:
- Reasonable written notice of the date, time, and place of the examination and the examinee’s right to consult with legal counsel or an employee representative before each phase of the test.
- Written notice of the nature and characteristics of the polygraph instrument and examination
Extensive written notice explaining the examinee's rights, including a list of
prohibited questions and topics, the examinee's right to terminate the
examination, and the examinee's right to file a complaint with the Department of
Labor alleging violations of EPPA
Employers must also provide written notice to the examiner identifying the
persons to be examined.
limited instances where EPPA permits the administration of polygraph tests,
recordkeeping requirements apply both to employers and polygraph examiners.
Employers and polygraph examiners must retain required records for a minimum of
three years from the date the polygraph examination is conducted (or from the
date the examination is requested if no examination is conducted).
Employers investigating an economic loss or injury must maintain a copy of the
statement that sets forth the specific incident or activity under investigation
and the basis for testing that particular employee and proof of service of that
statement to the examinee.
Employers who manufacture, distribute, or dispense controlled substances must
maintain records specifically identifying the loss or injury in question and the
nature of the employee’s access to the person or property that is the subject of
employer who requests an employee or prospective employee to submit to a
polygraph examination pursuant to the ongoing investigation, drug manufacturer,
or security services EPPA exemptions must maintain:
- A copy of the written statement that sets forth the time and place of the examination and the examinee’s right to consult with counsel
- A copy of the written notice provided by the employer to the examiner identifying the persons to be examined
Copies of all opinions, reports or other records furnished to the employer by
the examiner relating to such examinations
polygraph examiners must maintain all opinions, reports, charts, written
questions, lists, and other records relating to polygraph tests of such persons,
as well as records of the number of examinations conducted during each day, and
the duration of each test period.
exempt private sector employers and polygraph examiners retained to administer
examinations to persons identified by employers must keep the required records
safe and accessible at the place or places of employment or business or at one
or more established central recordkeeping offices where employment or
examination records are customarily maintained. If the records are maintained at
a central recordkeeping office, other than in the place or places of employment
or business, such records must be made available within 72 hours following
notice from the Secretary of Labor or an authorized representative such as Wage
and Hour Division personnel.
are no reporting requirements under EPPA.
Secretary of Labor can bring court action to restrain violators and assess civil
money penalties up to $10,000 per violation. An employer who violates the law
may be liable to the employee or prospective employee for appropriate legal and
equitable relief, which may include employment, reinstatement, promotion, and
payment of lost wages and benefits.
person against whom a civil money penalty is assessed may, within 30 days of the
notice of assessment, request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. If
dissatisfied with the Administrative Law Judge's decision, such person may
request a review of the decision by the Administrative Review Board which the
Secretary of Labor has designated to issue final agency decisions.
Final determinations on violations are enforceable through the courts.
Relation to State, Local, and Other Federal Laws
law does not preempt any provision of any state or local law or any collective
bargaining agreement that is more restrictive with respect to lie detector
Compliance Assistance Available
detailed information, including copies of explanatory brochures and regulatory
and interpretative materials, may be obtained from a local Wage and Hour office
The Department of Labor provides employers, workers, and others with clear and easy-to-access information and assistance on how to comply with the Employee Polygraph Protection Act. Compliance assistance related to the Act, including the Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) Fact Sheet (http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs36.pdf), and regulatory and interpretive materials, is available on the Compliance Assistance "By Law"(http://www.dol.gov/compliance/laws/comp-eppa.htm) Web page.
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