What are my niece’s rights to regarding a polygraph test to be administered by her employer?

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What are my niece’s rights to regarding a polygraph test to be administered by her employer?

She works for a small cleaning company and is being told by the owner of the company that some money was taken from a customer’s home; they believe  it to be either my niece or another girl who did it. They have scheduled for polygraph tests to be given to both girls and said whichever girl fails will be terminated and the other will be allowed to stay. They have also said that they will assume guilt should either girl refuse to test and that guilty party’s information will be passed along to the customer for him to decide if he wants charges filed. I believe my niece’s innocence, but I feel like her naivety and willingness to jump right into talking a polygraph could be the wrong thing to do.  

Asked on June 30, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

1) Unless your neice has a written employment contract protecting her job and/or limiting how she can be disciplined or terminated, she is an employee at will. That means the employer may fire her for any reason whatsoever, at any time, such as and including unproven suspicion of theft. Alternately, the employer may put conditions on keeping employmet, like taking the polygraph test. So the employer may fire someone who won't take the test and/or who fails it.

2) As long as the employer is telling the truth and not releasing certain protected information (like social security numbers), they can reveal information to the affected customer, such as as "Jane and Jill were the two employees working in your home right before you discovered the money missing." That customer can then decide what to do with it: e.g. file a police report or press charges, sue in small claims court, etc.


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