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The Nation : Court Bars Lie Tests of Texas Employees

October 29, 1987

Texas' Supreme Court ruled unanimously that mandatory lie detector tests of public employees are an unconstitutional invasion of their privacy. The court ruled in a lawsuit filed by the Texas State Employees Union against the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation. The court also ordered that the department pay $18,000 in legal fees and $800 in costs for the union. Several union members also had sued the department after it decided in 1983 to begin the lie detector tests. Employees were subject to "adverse personnel action" if they refused to take the exam during an investigation of suspected patient abuse. "This case today, I think, is the death knell of polygraph testing of public employees," said Jim Harrington, legal director of the Texas Civil Liberties Union. The decision applied only to public employees but may affect drug- and polygraph-testing of workers in private business also, he said.

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