Re: Refusing a Polygraph
South Carolina polygraph testing:
South Carolina employers may not give pre-employment polygraph tests except in very specific circumstances. This issue can be a concern for potential employees with the increased awareness of security in the workplace.
Both employees and employers should be aware that the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, a federal law, prohibits pre-employment lie detector screenings.
Some employers are allowed to give polygraphs during the hiring process, including state and local agencies hiring law enforcement officers. Government agencies are allowed to administer polygraph tests as a prerequisite to employment. This includes local and state governments as well as the federal government.
A few private companies are also permitted to give pre-employment polygraph tests. These include armored car companies and companies that manufacture, transport or distribute prescription drugs.
Under existing law current employees may not be given lie detector tests unless there is specific cause to justify the exam. Employees suspected of a criminal act, which resulted in loss to the employer, may be given a polygraph test. Employers must be cautious in choosing to administer such polygraphs. Penalties for abuse of polygraphs can be up to $10,000 per incident.
The polygraph test is only one of several lie detector instruments. All the various lie detector instruments are governed by the same restrictions. These devices seek to determine an individual’s honesty or dishonesty by measuring a variety of biological patterns, which may change when an individual is not telling the truth. Any test which uses an instrument to measure such readings to determine truthfulness would fall under the same regulation.
If there is a proven need to test an individual then written notice must be given to the employee. The employee may refuse to take the exam. An employer is prohibited from firing an employee because of his or her refusal to take a lie detector test.
Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.