Lie detector test for theft of money – Last week, our Polygraph Examiner Willem Marshall, conducted polygraph tests for a new client after she had theft of money from her business. She gave the employees an opportunity to repay the money with no questions asked, but no one came forward. Because she needed to find out who to trust or not as her business runs on cash basis, she decided to send everyone for the lie detector test. One person showed deception and the client then decided to inform everyone that they now know who is responsible for the theft and that person has another two days to come forward. As a result of this, the person who showed deception on the test confessed to stealing the money.
Tara Reade, who has accused the Democratic nominee for president in the United States, Joe Biden, of sexual assault in 1993 while being employed in his office, has stated in an interview on 7th May 2020, that she would be willing to undergo a polygraph test to prove her version of events.
Her interviewer, Megyn Kelly, asked her if she would be willing to go under oath regarding the allegation she made and she replied yes. When asked if she would be wiling to subject herself to cross-examination, she stated that she would and lastly when asked if she would be willing to take a polygraph test, she said that she is not criminal and the person that should be taking the polygraph is the accused. She stated that she however, is willing to take a polygraph test if her accuser does.
Mr Biden has publicly denied that allegation that was made against him.
WHAT IS A POLYGRAPH TEST?
It is a test used to verify a person’s truthfulness and is often called a ‘Lie Detector Test.’
IS THERE ANY LAW CONTROLLING USE OF POLYGRAPH IN SOUTH AFRICA?
The application of polygraph testing is a relatively new concept in South Africa, especially in disputes relating to employment relationships. There is no specific labour legislation at this point to control the use of the test or to protect the employee’s right against the abuse of the test.
CAN ONE BE COMPELLED TO UNDERGO A POLYGRAPH TEST?
An employee may not be compelled to undergo a polygraph examination, unless she or he agrees to it or a collective agreement or contract of employment provides for it. The agreement must be in writing.
The individual should be informed that—
- the examinations are voluntary;
- only questions discussed prior to the examination will be used;
- he/she has a right to have an interpreter, if necessary;
- should he/she prefer, another person may be present during the examination, provided that person does not interfere in any way with the proceedings;
- no abuse in whatever way will be allowed;
- no discrimination will be allowed; and
- no threats will be allowed.
WHEN IS THE EMPLOYER PERMITTED TO USE POLYGRAPH?
Generally, employers are permitted to use the polygraph to investigate specific incidents where—
- Employees had access to property which is the subject of the investigation.
- There is a reasonable suspicion that the employee was involved in the incident.
- There has been economic loss or injury to the employer’s business like theft of company property.
- The employer is combating dishonesty in positions of trust.
- The employer is combating serious alcohol, illegal drugs or narcotics abuse and fraudulent behaviour within the company.
- The employer is combating deliberate falsification of documents and lies regarding true identity of the people involved.
WHO GETS THE POLYGRAPH TEST RESULTS?
Polygraph results can only be released to an authorised person.
Generally, it is the person who has undergone the polygraph test (examinee), or anyone specifically designated in writing by the examinee; and the person representing the employer or government agency that requested the examination.
WHAT IS THE STATUS OF POLYGRAPH TESTS AT THE CCMA?
Polygraphists have been accepted as expert witnesses whose evidence needs to be tested for reliability. The duty of the commissioner is to determine the admissibility and reliability of the evidence.
Polygraph tests may not be interpreted as implying guilt, but may be used to support other available evidence that suggests that the employee concerned did indeed commit the alleged misconduct. In other words, polygraph test results, on their own, are not a basis for proving that someone committed an act or omission as alleged by the employer.
- Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995 as amended
Last week, I was requested to conduct specific polygraph examinations where there was a suspicion that stock was being sold and instead of money being banked, it was illegally shared among employees. One employee that was requested to undergo the polygraph examination, admitted prior to the polygraph examination that he was involved in theft of money paid for stock by customers to the value of R6000 in the prior week and also admitted to taking various stock items without paying for it. He further implicated the warehouse manager as well as production manager of being involved in the theft of cash paid by customers. Because of his confession, one of questions on the polygraph examination was changed as follow:
Are you now withholding any information about other incidences where you took money that a customer paid for stock of this business?
After being informed by the Examiner during the post examination that Deception was detected and he was not being truthful when denying involvement in other incidences of theft of money, he admitted to further theft of money paid by customers for stock.
Why to use a pre-employment screening polygraph
After two hijackings of high value cargo in a short period and a subsequent increase in insurance premiums, a logistics company decided to make use of our services to conduct pre-employment screening and criminal record checks of prospective employees. Once a candidate had been selected for the polygraph process, they had already passed the initial interviews, reference and competency checks. After conducting the first 26 pre-employment polygraph examinations, this is what we found:
1 Fifty percent (50%) of the new applicants had previous criminal records that were not disclosed during the initial interview process with the prospective employer. Offenses ranged from driving under the influence, assault, bribery, theft, possession of or dealing in illegal drugs, possession of an illegal firearm and ammunition as well as public violence.
2 Forty six percent (46%) of the prospective employees made admittances during our uniquely formulated pre-test interview regarding previous dismissals, illegal drug use or involvement in theft at a previous workplace that were not disclosed during the initial interview process.
3 Thirty eight percent (38%) showed deception when asked questions during the polygraph examination regarding involvement in previous theft, hijacking or criminal activities that were not disclosed during the pre-examination interview or initial interview.
Since this logistics company has implemented the pre-employment polygraph examination and criminal check as part of their recruitment process, they have not had any major incident of theft or any hijacking of cargo. The pre-employment polygraph test is therefore a valuable source of information when deciding who to hire. The appointment of even one dishonest employee can result in financial losses and reputational damage to your company. Can you really afford to take a chance judging a person on face value or would you rather make an informed decision?