Enforced Public & Federal Polygraph Testing

Public or Federal Employment Polygraph TestingDo criminals have more rights than public officials, civil servants or federal and public employees? Yes. Sometimes. Maybe. The bottom line is: Public and Federal employees are the people we entrust with our lives, safety, education and well-being.  While civilian criminals have certain rights that protect violations of their Constitutional freedoms, our civil servants have to live by a higher standard. While John Doe working at the Quickie Mart has to volunteer to undergo a polygraph test, many times civil employees do not have that choice.

The reason is that government realizes that polygraph examinations, done correctly, have about a 95% accuracy rating and their is a very good chance that if a professional polygraph examiner indicates dishonesty in the results of the polygraph test, it is very likely that something is amiss. And for government to work, the people it represents have to have faith in the integrity of the individuals that make up the system. So yes, civil, public and Federal employees do have to live to a higher standard and have less rights (at times) than John Doe. While precedents can be found on either side of an argument, here are a few legal references to the mandatory use of polygraph in public employment.

  • FEDERAL - Federal appeals court upholds termination of public employees who refused to take a polygraph test.1
  • OHIO - Use of the device was job-related because it “allowed the city to make a more informed choice about its hiring decisions; there was uncontradicted testimony at trial the polygraph “intimidated many applicants to reveal further information about their background.” 2
  • PENNSYLVANIA - Federal appeals court rules that use of polygraph test in pre-employment screening did not violate the equal protection clause or violate an applicant’s substantive due process rights.3
  • GEORGIA - Federal Appeals Court upholds exam and control questions asked firefighters in drug investigation.4
  • FEDERAL - President Reagan adopts polygraph directive for federal employees with access to classified information.5
  • TENNESSEE - Federal appeals court upholds polygraph as precondition for promotional opportunity.6
  • ARIZONA - Alleged misuse of city time adequate basis to order polygraph.7
  • ILLINOIS - Accused public employee must reply as to whether he has taken a polygraph examination; refusal to answer is insubordination.8

  • If you would like to discuss the professional services of a polygraph examiner, please contact The Polygraph Examiner at 1-800-497-9305.
  1. Gulden v. McCorkle, 680 F.2d 1070 (5th Cir. 1982). [83 FP#101 12] []
  2. Tye v. City of Cincinnati, 794 F.Supp. 824 (S.D. Ohio 1992). [1993 FP 27-8] []
  3. Anderson v. City of Philadelphia, 845 F.2d 1216 (3rd Cir. 1988). []
  4. Hester v. Milledgeville, 777 F.2d 1492 (11th Cir. 1985). []
  5. National Security Decision, Directive #84 (1983). []
  6. Brown v. State of Tennessee, 693 F.2d 600 (6th Cir. 1982). []
  7. Rivera v. City of Douglas, 644 P.2d 271 (Ariz. App. 1982). []
  8. Nieukirk v. Board of Fire & Police Cmsnrs. of Peoria, 423 N.E.2d 1259 (Ill.App. 1981). []