Protecting Job Applicants' Privacy Rights When Using Preemployment Honesty Tests
JOHN W. JONES, PHILIP ASH, CATALINA SOTO, AND WILLIAM TERRIS
The estimates of employees who steal range from approximately 20 percent to 40 percent, depending on the industry, survey methods, and the theft criteria (cf. Hefter, 1986; Hollinger & Clark, 1983; Jones & Joy, 1989a). While researchers are still attempting to quantify both the total frequency and cost of employee theft, the existence of meaningful amounts of theft by employees is widely accepted.
Jones and Terris ( 1989) reviewed personnel selection programs employers can use to increase their odds of selecting applicants at lowest risk to steal. Most of the programs reviewed were used in place of preemployment polygraphs, which are now restricted in most contexts under the Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988. Selection programs differ on a number of dimensions, including validity and usefulness (Table 17.1).
In recent years, the potential of paper-and-pencil honesty tests on job applicants' privacy right has been explored ( Lehr & Middlebrooks, 1985). Since preemployment polygraphs were often viewed as invasive ( Frierson, 1988), the concern exists as to whether paper-and-pencil honesty tests are invasive too. This chapter briefly reviews the concept of the right to workplace privacy. In addition, practical steps that companies can take to ensure that their honesty testing program does not infringe upon job applicants' privacy rights are described.