When I think of lie detectors, my mind immediately jumps to the scene in Meet the Fockers where Jack Byrnes, played by Robert Di Nero, subjects his son-in-law, Greg Focker, played by Ben Stiller, to a lie detector test. It’s hilarious. The two re-enacted the scene on a recent Saturday Night Live skit. It was just as funny.

The movies and TV make it look like lie detector tests are a common event and can be used willy-nilly by investigators and the police. That’s not the case in Ontario.

Let’s take a look at what the law says about lie detector tests in Ontario. The Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000, defines a lie detector test as “an analysis, examination, interrogation or test that is taken or performed by means of a machine and is used to assess a person’s credibility”.

According to the website Your Guide to the Employment Standards Act, “it is against the law for an employer or anyone on behalf of an employer to directly or indirectly require, request, enable or influence an employee to take a lie detector test”.

Employees have three rights under The Act. They are:

  1. not to take a lie detector test;
  2. not to be asked to take a lie detector test; and
  3. not to be required to take a lie detector test.

In addition, no one may disclose to an employer that an employee has taken a lie detector test and no one can disclose to an employer the results of a lie detector test taken by an employee.

Why are they prohibited?

There is a considerable amount of controversy surrounding the accuracy and validity of results gained from lie detectors. The controversy has been raging since it first came out in 1922. Issues ranging from cheating to poorly trained technicians and poorly worded questions, to name a few, have dogged lie detection tests.

If you were thinking about using a lie detector test in an investigation, I would select another strategy that’s in line with the law.