Under Massachusetts law (MA Gen. Laws Ch. 149 Sec. 19B), it is illegal to require an employee or job applicant, including applicants for employment as a police officer, to submit to a lie detector test as a condition of employment. This prohibition covers employers in both the public and private sectors. The state law does not apply to lie detector tests administered by law enforcement agencies as part of a criminal investigation. The law also prohibits any demotion, discharge, or other discrimination in regard to the refusal to take a lie detector test. The legal prohibition also extends to lie detector tests performed outside of Massachusetts for employment in Massachusetts.
Lie detector tests. “Lie detector test” is defined by the law as any test utilizing a polygraph or any other device, mechanism, instrument, or written examination, which is operated or the results of which are used or interpreted by an examiner for the purpose of assisting in or enabling the detection of deception, the verification of truthfulness, or the rendering of a diagnostic opinion regarding the honesty of an individual.
Honesty tests. The state's prohibition extends to “written examinations … the results of which are used (to) enable the detection of deception, the verification of truthfulness, or the rendering of a diagnostic opinion regarding the honesty of an individual.”
Penalties. A fine of up to $1,000 (minimum: $300) may be imposed for a violation of the state polygraph law. Subsequent offenses are punishable by a fine of not more than $1,500 or by imprisonment for not more than 90 days, or both. Corporate officers and managers may be held personally liable for company violations. Employees, within three years of ...