The Drug Enforcement Administration will 14 contractors $500,000 to settle a lawsuit that accuses the agency of illegally requiring them to undergo highly intrusive lie detector tests to keep their jobs as translators, McClatchy Newspapers report. It appears to be the first time a federal agency has settled allegations involving contractors' lie detector tests since a 1988 law banned the use of polygraph screening for most private employees.
The 14 contract employees translated Spanish conversations collected during court-authorized wiretapping. They said they were barred from working after they failed or refused polygraphs. The DEA did not acknowledge any wrongdoing, but it agreed to re-screen the plaintiffs without weighing lie detector results. The agency also promised to delete references to the polygraphs from government records. “This will serve as a message to other government agencies,” said Gene Iredale, the San Diego attorney who sued the agency. “The people who were involved in this case work hard and are of impeccable character. But because of a squiggle on a piece of paper and the poor administration of these polygraphs, they were humiliated and unfairly deprived of their employment.”