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Polygraph Test Not A Legal Requirement For Most Jobs

By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Can your boss force you to take a polygraph test?

A Middle Delaware man spectacularly failed a pre-employment lie-detector test this month when, during the test, he admitted he had broken into a mobile home and set it on fire in 2007. That’s going to hurt his candidacy for the job – as being a police officer.

Could a polygraph test hurt your chances of getting a job? Not likely. Nope, not because you’re so squeaky clean, but because Federal law prohibits the use of polygraph tests, either for pre-employment screening or during the course of employment, with certain exceptions.

Employers generally can’t require an employee or a job applicant to take a polygraph or fire an employee for refusing to take the test. So, what about Smokey the Bandit? Well, the law does not outlaw the use of lie-detector tests for Federal, State or Local government jobs nor for jobs that involve security or handling drugs.

Good news for the Delaware applicant is that he can honestly say, although he didn’t get the job as a police officer, he did solve one cold case.

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