Can an Employer Require a 'Lie Detector' Test in Oklahoma?

Oklahoma residents are likely familiar with polygraph technology, if only from television cop and spy shows. This supposed 'lie detector' purports to be able, in the hands of a trained operator, to differentiate between a person answering questions truthfully and the same person being untruthful. It does this by allowing comparison of 'baseline' biomedical readings such as heart rate and blood pressure to those measured under the duress of questioning.

Can an employer require a 'lie detector' test in Oklahoma? While much confidence is placed in these devices by fictional characters, their use is a bit more controversial in real life, and such tests are often not admitted as evidence in court proceedings due to doubts about their efficacy and fairness. The federal Employee Polygraph Protection Act makes it clear that, in most cases, private employers may not force employees or prospective employees to take polygraph tests. Further, employees may not be disciplined for refusing to take such a test.

There are exceptions to these protections, however. The law does not apply to government employees or to workers in certain security-related or pharmaceutical private industries. Private contractors working for the federal government on projects involving national security are also not covered by the act. Even where such tests are permitted, however, employees have certain rights they can exercise, including a right to a written notice, to refuse to take or discontinue a test and to the privacy of results. Further, there are limits on how a test may be conducted and how long it can last.

The use of polygraphs by employers is considered invasive, and employees should be aware of their rights regarding such tests. Those questioning the use of polygraphs or other wage and hour claims should seek legal guidance about these issues. He or she may wish to consider contacting an experienced Oklahoma employment lawyer, helping him or her protect their rights and interests.