What if my co-workers and I have to take a polygraph test due to a theft, what are our options?

I work in a DUI agency as a secretary. We take cash/credit card payments. My co-worker and I do daily bank deposits, although she does them most of the time. Last month, some money went missing. So what happened is Friday morning, 5/13, she processed the deposit and she noticed that it wasn’t a big deposit as usual but she just thought to herself that perhaps Thursday night’s class didn’t receive a lot of payments. The Friday after, 5/20, the deposit was normal. She went to check off the book carbon copy receipts for that particular program and noticed that the receipts from the previous Thursday, 5/12, were not checked off so she assumed she forgot to check them off not remembering that the Friday before the deposit was smaller than usual, that should have been a red light, so she didn’t report that to our main office accounting. The Monday after that, 5/23/16, our corporate office called us to let us know that they received the 5/20 deposit receipts but were missing a bunch of receipts. When my co-worker went to check the receipt book, she realized what happened. Those were the receipts she assumed she forgot to check off, when in reality they were never in the deposit box. We looked everywhere. We asked the counselor who took the payments, if perhaps he might have forgotten to drop the money in the safe box and put it somewhere else which he’d never done before but he said he always puts the money in the safe box as soon as he’s done collecting the payments besides, by then, more than a week had passed so it was almost impossible to know what really happened. So yesterday I received an email from our boss that there will a polygraph test administered to my co-worker, the counselor and myself. I’d like to know what my options are. First, I absolutely 100% had nothing to do with the disappearance of this money. However, I am nervous. I’ve never had a polygraph test done before and I’m worried my nervousness might get the best of me. Second, I feel that this is unfair because that Thursday night, 5/12, when this payments were taken and supposedly put in the safe box, my co-worker and I were not even here we get off at 5:30 pm, these payments were taken after that. There were also other counselors working that night. I feel that they should all be tested there is also a huge possibility that the counselor who took the payments dropped the receipts with the money and that a client picked them up and took them. What can I do about this?

Asked on June 15, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

In CA, lie detector tests may not be given to employees, even if an incident of theft is involved. However, this law does not apply to public sector employees, such as those employed by the government, either state or federal. Since you work at a DUI agency, I assume that you are a state employee, therefore you can legally be subjected to such a test. That is unless there is some other legal prohibition against this. For example, if this would violate the terms of a union agreement or the like. Also, your treatment must not be the result ofany form of legally actionable discrimination. For further advice, you should consult dierecly with an employment law attorney and/or contact the Department of Industrial Relations. 


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