MODULE 35: Drug Testing and Polygraph Testing
Core Module Issues:
• When should a company require employees to submit to drug testing?
• When should a company require employees to submit to polygraph (lie
• What should a company do if a worker fails a drug or a polygraph test?
Module Teaching Notes
I have special affection for this module. When I met my Cengage Acquisitions Editor in 2008 to
pitch the idea for this book, I brought along this module as a sample. If you are having a good
experience using this text, this is the material that sold Cengage on the book.
The scenario has also turned out to be among my students' favorites. I get a lot of good debate out
I'm going to list the three key unit ideas here again, but no need to do more than briefly recap them
(at most). The background information in the text goes into a bit more detail than before, and
includes a discussion of Roe v. Wade (which you may want to address, or may not want to touch
with a ten-foot pole).
1. As with the last unit, the employment-at-will doctrine allows for workers to be disciplined or fired
for any reason that is not legally prohibited. Unless a law says, “you can't”, then a company can.
So, a worker cannot be fired because of his race (because the Civil Rights Act says so), but a
worker can be fired for not getting alone with his supervisor.
2. There is a Constitutional right to privacy, but it generally does not apply to the employer-
3. Few other kinds of laws (as in, statutes and not Constitutional law) exist that give workers
privacy rights in the workplace.
Now, the new item that you should address this time is that there actually IS a law that gives
workers some rights where polygraph tests are concerned. The Employee Polygraph Protection
Act requires that MOST workers be given notice before a lie detector exam is given, and requires
that they not be fired solely based on a failed polygraph exam. BUT, banks (like the one featured