The Drug Enforcement Administration has agreed to pay 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.
The settlement appears to be the first time that a federal government agency has settled allegations involving contractors’ lie detector tests since a 1988 law banned the use of polygraph screening for most private employees, said a lawyer for the group.
The 14 contract employees translated Spanish conversations collected during court-authorized wiretapping of the DEA’s criminal suspects. 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.