(The Polygraph Protection Act)
<p>(The Polygraph Protection Act) Cilia Cigna was the office manager for a small property management group in Newport Beach. Five people worked in the office full time, and another 12 employees were in and out of the office periodically throughout the week. As office manager, Cilia was in charge of petty cash, which she kept in a Romeo e’Julietta cigar box her dad had given her. Normally, she would not have more than $250 in small bills and change in the box at any one time. She kept the box in the bottom drawer of her desk, and would normally lock her desk, but the lock had been broken several months ago. When she returned from lunch a few weeks age she discovered that the cigar box and its contents were missing. Cilia wasn’t sure how much money had been in the cigar box, but she thought it was probably over $200. Obviously, she thought, a theft had occurred and the thief must be one of her fellow employees. That afternoon, Cilia reported the theft to Mr. Collingwood, the President and owner of the company. Mr. Collingwood immediately sought the assistance of a security professional who was a tenant in one of the buildings Collingwood’s firm managed. Cilia, Mr. Collingwood, and Mr. Jessop, the security expert, conferred and decided the most likely suspect was Mary Sullivan, a nineteen-year old clerk recently hired by Cilia. All of the other employees who had access to the cigar box were long serving employees and they were considered especially trustworthy. By process of elimination, Mary was the only conceivable suspect. Mr. Jessop was a polygraph expert within his security company, and suggested that Mary submit to a polygraph test (lie-detector test). Both Cilia and Mr. Collingwood agreed this would be probably the only and best way to get to the bottom of the theft. By questioning the other employees known to have been in the office that morning, there apparently were no witnesses to the theft. Mary did not want to submit to the test, but Mr. Collingwood assured her that the test would be the best way to prove her innocence. However, he added, her refusal to take the test would be tantamount to an admission of guilt, and she would be fired if she didn’t take it. He told her that all employees suspected of a crime against the company or any of its employees had no choice but to take the polygraph test – it was a condition of employment. Under the circumstances, Mary agreed to the polygraph test. Clearly in distress from her afternoon of accusations and the thought of being wired to a strange machine, Mary reached into her purse for her prescription Valium to calm her nerves before taking the polygraph exam. Mr. Jessop confiscated the Valium before Mary could take a single pill. He told her he didn’t want any chemical distortions of her responses to the machine and his questions. Having observed this, Cilia realized she hadn’t searched Mary’s purse for the stolen money – she quickly did so while Mr. Jessop was in the next room testing Mary. Cilia only found five dollars and a bit of change in Mary’s purse. She knew, however, this did not prove Mary’s innocence since hiding the money in her own purse would be a silly thing for a thief to do. The results of the polygraph exam were inconclusive and the mystery of the stolen money was never solved. Mary became quite ill over the experience and missed several days of work. Within two weeks of the incident, Mary was discharged from the firm under an “at will” termination. When prospective employers called Cilia regarding Mary’s employment experience with the property management firm, Cilia would relate the incident of Mary’s involvement with the theft. Mary was unable to find new employment and seeks your advice on whatever options she may now have. How would you advise her? </p><p>Questions </p><p>1. Have any Federal or State laws been violated here? Which ones? </p><p>2. Is there evidence of management malpractice here, and what is it? </p><p>3. Can Mary sue as victim of a “contemptuous tort?” How does this differ from ordinary torts? </p><p>4. If you have found that violations did occur, who would be liable? The property management company? The security firm? Mr. Collingwood? Cilia? Mr.Jessop </p><p>5. What separates personal liability from company liability for the violations in this case? </p><p>6. What has to be shown to make a case for emotional distress? </p><p>7. Would punitive damages be awarded in any of the actions you might bring on Mary’s behalf? Why? Why not? </p><p>8. What policies or procedures could the property management company have put in place to mitigate against any rights violations you may have found?</p>
I work as an Estate Manager (over see construction contractors,
I work as an Estate Manager (over see construction contractors, maintenance personnel, housekeepers, etc.) for a family. About 2-months ago they had a breakin and I was recently asked by my employer to take a polygraph test regarding the theft at his residence. I was told that they were polygraphing everyone in order to clear people and regain trust in them. Besides personal beliefs (Criminal Justice Major in College), the authorization letter given to me had inaccurate information regarding the night of the theft. For both reasons I refused to sign the form. My employer sent me home and recently emailed me that I'm on an unpaid leave of absence. From people I've talked to, they're telling me that I'm not covered by the protection of the Employee Polygraph Protection Act because I don't work at the owner's office and I don't do work related to his business. Do I have the right to refuse a polygraph? Was I retaliated against for not signing the authorization?
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