Can Employers Request a Polygraph in Tennessee?

Have you ever been asked by a potential employer to submit to a Polygraph exam? If so, then you may be wondering what your rights are. The Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) was established as Federal law in 1988. It actually prohibits most employers from requiring polygraph exams either as a pre-screening process or during the period of employment. However, like many laws, there are some exceptions. The EPPA does not apply to those employed by Federal, State, or local government agencies, and there are a few other exceptions to note as well.

Let’s take a look at when an employer can ask you to take a polygraph in Tennessee.

Employee Rights Regarding Polygraph Exams

Generally speaking, private employers cannot require, or even request, that a potential employee submits to a polygraph exam as part of their application process. It is also considered discriminatory to use someone’s refusal to submit to a polygraph to discharge or discipline them. It is also illegal for an employer to request to see the results of a polygraph exam if the employee has taken one.

However, as mentioned, there are some exceptions. Although these rules apply to most private employers, federal, state, and local government agencies are not bound by EPPA. However, they do have to follow specific regulations when administering polygraph exams to their employees.

Employers Who Can Use Polygraph

Some private employers are exceptions to the usual EPPA rules based on their specific industry. Some of the most common ones include security firms, alarm companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors, and dispensaries. However, like government agencies, there are still restrictions when conducting polygraph exams on their employees.

Some private employers may also be allowed to give polygraph exams to employees if there is a reasonable suspicion that they are involved in an incident such as theft or embezzlement that has resulted in s significant economic loss to the company. There are strict regulations required to protect the employee’s rights.

In situations where it is permitted to conduct an employee polygraph in Tennessee, the following rules must be adhered to:

  • Employees must be informed in advance of the polygraph exam
  • Specific information must be recorded before, during, and after the test
  • The exam must be carried out by a licensed polygrapher
  • The employee must be given a written description of how the test will be conducted
  • The employee can seek independent legal counsel before the polygraph test

Uncover the truth!


Ken Shull served as a Special Agent with the FBI for almost 25 years and was head of the FBI Polygraph program until his retirement in 2001. At that time he set up the Kendall Investigations practice as a private investigator in Knoxville, TN offering Polygraph services, private investigations, and security guards. Ken is a member of the American Polygraph Association and The American Association of Police Polygraphists.

The Truth is Still the Truth Even if No One Believes it, A Lie is Still a Lie Even if Everyone Believes it.