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Take The Lie Detector Test Or Not?


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#1 of 43 James Edward

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Posted January 26 2005 - 11:25 AM

This is one of those 'I can't believe this is happening to me' stories...

I have been working for an A/V installation company for about 6 months. About three weeks ago, a laptop went missing at a job. The homeowner thinks one of us in the company took it... I did not do it, nor do I think the other guys did either.

The 'company', is the owner, and three workers. To make matters worse, the homeowner is a neighbor of my boss.

Ironically, I was not working at this particular site that day, but stopped by with my boss to drop off some parts. We were there for 10 minutes. However, since this homeowner had previously dealt with my co-workers, he feels that I am the prime suspect- being 'the new guy.'

My boss is trying not to have the police involved, and is going to pay for lie-detector tests for each of us.

Should I submit? My gut instinct is: Why not? I haven't done anything wrong. However, my wife, her brother(a police Captain), and several others say I should not.

For those that know- What are my options and the ramifications of this?
I am tempted to simply tell this homeowner to go ahead and get the police involved, I've done nothing.

Thoughts? Thanks
Napoleon, don't be jealous that I've been chatting online with babes all day. Besides, we both know that I'm training to be a cage fighter.

#2 of 43 Philip_G

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Posted January 26 2005 - 11:31 AM

I think I'd seek the advice of a lawyer. My gut instinct is no way. If your boss doesn't take your word for it he doesn't trust you, and if he doesn't trust you, you're better off elsewhere.

#3 of 43 george kaplan

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Posted January 26 2005 - 11:44 AM

Lie Detectors do not detect lies. They are actually polygraphs, which record various physical measurements (such as heart rate and sweat). All that a "lie detector" could actually measure, if that, would be your nervousness, which could easily occur when one is telling the truth. And it's not really that hard to tell baldfaced lies and not show up as nervous.

It is widespread ignorance of what lie detectors do and don't do that make them a useful tool. A suspect is told that the machine says their lying in hopes of forcing a confession, etc.

I'd avoid it if at all possible, but then you have to deal with the suspicions caused by your unwillingness. Posted Image

The government realizes that lie detectors don't work (hence they are inadmissable in court), but unfortunately won't outlaw their use. Posted Image

Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

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#4 of 43 Don Black

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Posted January 26 2005 - 11:45 AM

Polygraph tests are completely subjective. The opinion of the administrator is really what's being tested. He/she takes some baseline measurements and then compares your physiological responses to those original measurements. If there is enough of a difference, he/she might conclude that you were lying. This is not science. I would object on principle.

#5 of 43 Greg*go

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Posted January 26 2005 - 12:11 PM

I think it's illegal for an employer to subject an employee to a lie detector test, at least in PA.

I think my weekend job has something on the wall about employees being subjected to the lie detectors. I'll know for sure on Saturday.
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#6 of 43 Christ Reynolds

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Posted January 26 2005 - 12:36 PM

my advice to you is to give the laptop back and quit wasting everyones time Posted Image

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#7 of 43 James T

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Posted January 26 2005 - 01:57 PM

I think you would have signed something when you got hired stating the invovlement of a lie detector, otherwise, you don't have to and you shouldn't.

You can mess the lie detector by tightening your ass sphincter. It's going to raise your blood pressure a bit and cause a spike in the reading. So by answering true questions with that technique, all false answers that normally will spike will seem normal to someone reading the graph.

#8 of 43 alan halvorson

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Posted January 26 2005 - 03:40 PM

There's an article in a recent issue (maybe the most recent issue) of Skeptical Inquirer that pretty much lambasts the use of lie detectors. George and Don both summed up what the article took a while to say. No, I would not submit to a "lie detector" test.
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#9 of 43 Robert_Gaither

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Posted January 26 2005 - 05:26 PM

I'd state I'd take it under one condition that when the results comes back that you're innocent then you like to sue the person for slander. If the guy wants to bring the law on it, put the heat on you because he thinks you did it, then I think you deserve the same justification he's demanding and make it cost him money out of his own pocket (since his implication meaning you should be fired, I view what he did as a threat and slanderous which is causing you emotional stress or you wouldn't post it here). Reap the wind and harvest the whirlwind.Posted Image

#10 of 43 Glenn Overholt

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Posted January 26 2005 - 06:46 PM

Robert, you said it!

The slightest hesitation about submitting yourself to a lie detector test almost confirms that you're guilty.

I have to ask, though... if you stopped by with your boss on this day for ten minutes, how would you have gotten it out with him nearby? Ok, I'm not a professional thief, but I'd never stick a laptop under my coat and ride back to the shop with my boss. That's insane!

I would look for another job, no matter what the outcome. If he can't trust you, he doesn't deserve you.

Glenn

#11 of 43 Joseph S

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Posted January 26 2005 - 08:06 PM

There's no way I would submit to a "lie" detector test. Seek legal help if needed and try to find another job as mentioned above.

#12 of 43 Scott L

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Posted January 26 2005 - 09:14 PM

I wouldn't do it either. It's a crappy situation but I'd seek out a lawyer before I was persuaded to take a lie detector test by my boss.

#13 of 43 James Edward

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Posted January 26 2005 - 11:57 PM

To be fair to my boss, he is only asking for the lie detector tests to appease his neighbor. Right now, it is the path of least resistance.

I had been a customer of his for many years prior to working for him. I actually believe he knows I am innocent, yet feels he must do this to maintain a relationship with his neighbor.

Robert- Excellent idea!

Thanks for the opinions- you have raised some points I hadn't thought of. Keep them coming...
Napoleon, don't be jealous that I've been chatting online with babes all day. Besides, we both know that I'm training to be a cage fighter.

#14 of 43 Mike Brogan

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Posted January 27 2005 - 12:02 AM

Your Boss is totally out of line, I imagine he's just trying to save face with his neighbor/customer but he shouldn't be using you to do it. Tell him you (being innocent) have no problems bringing the police into it so why should he?

Personally, I probably would take the test but only with the proviso that the following people also have to submit to the test: the Boss, all of his employees, the home owner and all members of his family. See how they feel about being put into such a bullshit 'damned if you do' position. Also stipulate that the test is to be performed by 2 separate parties.

#15 of 43 Philip_G

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Posted January 27 2005 - 12:08 AM

Quote:
I had been a customer of his for many years prior to working for him. I actually believe he knows I am innocent, yet feels he must do this to maintain a relationship with his neighbor.

Then I think he needs to stand up for his employees.

#16 of 43 Al.Anderson

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Posted January 27 2005 - 12:30 AM

Polygraphs are quite accurate if performed by qualified technitions. But I doubt your boss would have the money or clout to get a highly trained polligrapher. And you don't want to be in the position of being falsely identified as it would be harder to erase that stigma.

It does seem like your boss is just offering this as a way to save face with a "friend". Although it would be great feeling to throw the thing back at the accuser and ask him to take one too, if you raise enough valid legal objections that might give your boss an out, which he may even be looking for.

Also, the cost of these polys aren't cheap. Wouldn't it be easier for your boss to just buy a new laptop for the guy?

I would contact a lawyer for this.

#17 of 43 DaveHo

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Posted January 27 2005 - 12:49 AM

In PA it is unlawful to force employees to take a polygraph after they have been hired. Of course it's also an at will employment state, so you can pretty much be fired for any reason.

I would flat out refuse to take the polygraph. Unless your boss is shelling out big bucks for a seasoned person to administer the test, the results will be very suspect.

I think the homeowner is nuts to think this is a reasonable course of action. I'm sure, although the customer will not admit it, there were many others in the house who could be responsible for the dissapearance. Your boss should be telling him to pound sand, neighbor or not.

-Dave

#18 of 43 James Edward

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Posted January 27 2005 - 12:53 AM

Also, the cost of these polys aren't cheap. Wouldn't it be easier for your boss to just buy a new laptop for the guy?


That was his original idea, but I think now he feels that the polygraphs would be exoneration for his people.

To be honest, until this episode cropped up, I thought polygraphs offered some legitimate form of screening. However, after reading through your responses, and doing many Google searches on the subject, I am strongly against taking one. They seem like more of a crap-shoot than I am willing to take.

The shame of it all is that I really like this job- how many of you here at the HTF would like to get paid to connect and set up A/V equipment? Oh well...
Napoleon, don't be jealous that I've been chatting online with babes all day. Besides, we both know that I'm training to be a cage fighter.

#19 of 43 James Edward

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Posted January 27 2005 - 12:56 AM

Unless your boss is shelling out big bucks for a seasoned person to administer the test, the results will be very suspect.


I think he knows someone associated with the police dept.
I don't know if that is a good or bad thing...
Napoleon, don't be jealous that I've been chatting online with babes all day. Besides, we both know that I'm training to be a cage fighter.

#20 of 43 Colton

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Posted January 27 2005 - 01:02 AM

Had I not stolen anything - I would take the lie detector test. What's the worst that can happen? He'd fire you? Fine. Find a better place to work. I just hope your boss hasn't excused himself from taking the test. He's just as suspect as everyone else.

- Colton