Employment Polygraph Testing Law and Legal Definition

The ability of employers to use polygraphs to verify the honesty of employees is regulated under both state and federal law. The use of polygraphs as a job applicant screening method is generally banned for private employers in all but a few industries, such as armored car services, security alarm systems, security personnel, employees at electric or nuclear power plants, public water facilities, public transportation, and others. Generally, government employees are not subject to the same prohibition against polygraph testing as are private employees.

Under the Federal Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988, polygraphs may be used by private employers during investigations involving economic loss or injury to the employer's business, theft, embezzlement, misappropriation, or an act of unlawful industrial espionage or sabotage. There are certain requirements, including that the tested employee had access to the property that is subject to the investigation; the employer has a reasonable suspicion that the employee was involved in the incident or activity under investigation; and the employer executes a statement provided to the employee before the test that sets forth with particularity the specific activity or incident being investigated and the basis for testing particular employees.