29 CFR 801.13 - Exemption of employers authorized to manufacture, distribute, or dispense controlled substances.

§ 801.13 Exemption of employers authorized to manufacture, distribute, or dispense controlled substances.

(a) Section 7(f) provides an exemption from the Act's general prohibition regarding the use of polygraph tests for employers authorized to manufacture, distribute, or dispense a controlled substance listed in schedule I, II, III, or IV of section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act ( 21 U.S.C. 812). This exemption permits the administration of polygraph tests, subject to the conditions set forth in sections 8 and 10 of the Act and §§ 801.21, 801.22, 801.23, 801.24, 801.25, 801.26, and 801.35 of this part, to:

(1) A prospective employee who would have direct access to the manufacture, storage, distribution, or sale of any such controlled substance; or

(2) A current employee if the following conditions are met:

(i) The test is administered in connection with an ongoing investigation of criminal or other misconduct involving, or potentially involving, loss or injury to the manufacture, distribution, or dispensing of any such controlled substance by such employer; and

(ii) The employee had access to the person or property that is the subject of the investigation.

(b)

(1) The terms manufacture, distribute, distribution, dispense, storage, and sale, for the purposes of this exemption, are construed within the meaning of the Controlled Substances Act ( 21 U.S.C. 812et seq.), as administered by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U.S. Department of Justice.

(2) The exemption in section 7(f) of the Act applies only to employers who are authorized by DEA to manufacture, distribute, or dispense a controlled substance. Section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act ( 21 U.S.C. 812) requires every person who manufactures, distributes, or dispenses any controlled substance to register with the Attorney General (i.e., with DEA). Common or contract carriers and warehouses whose possession of the controlled substance is in the usual course of their business or employment are not required to register. Since this exemption is intended to apply only to employees and prospective employees of persons or entities registered with DEA, and is not intended to apply to truck drivers employed by persons or entities who are not so registered, it has no application to employees of common or contract carriers or public warehouses. Truck drivers and warehouse employees of the persons or entities registered with DEA and authorized to manufacture, distribute, or dispense controlled substances, are within the scope of the exemption where they have direct access or access to the controlled substances, as discussed below.

(c) In order for a polygraph examination to be performed, section 7(f) of the Act requires that a prospective employee have “direct access” to the controlled substance(s) manufactured, dispensed, or distributed by the employer. Where a current employee is to be tested as a part of an ongoing investigation, section 7(f) requires that the employee have “access” to the person or property that is the subject of the investigation.

(1) A prospective employee would have “direct access” if the position being applied for has responsibilities which include contact with or which affect the disposition of a controlled substance, including participation in the process of obtaining, dispensing, or otherwise distributing a controlled substance. This includes contact or direct involvement in the manufacture, storage, testing, distribution, sale or dispensing of a controlled substance and may include, for example, packaging, repackaging, ordering, licensing, shipping, receiving, taking inventory, providing security, prescribing, and handling of a controlled substance. A prospective employee would have “direct access” if the described job duties would give such person access to the products in question, whether such employee would be in physical proximity to controlled substances or engaged in activity which would permit the employee to divert such substances to his or her possession.

(2) A current employee would have “access” within the meaning of section 7(f) if the employee had access to the specific person or property which is the subject of the on-going investigation, as discussed in § 801.12(e) of this part. Thus, to test a current employee, the employee need not have had “direct” access to the controlled substance, but may have had only infrequent, random, or opportunistic access. Such access would be sufficient to test the employee if the employee could have caused, or could have aided or abetted in causing, the loss of the specific property which is the subject of the investigation. For example, a maintenance worker in a drug warehouse, whose job duties include the cleaning of areas where the controlled substances which are the subject of the investigation were present, but whose job duties do not include the handling of controlled substances, would be deemed to have “access”, but normally not “direct access”, to the controlled substances. On the other hand, a drug warehouse truck loader, whose job duties include the handling of outgoing shipment orders which contain controlled substances, would have “direct access” to such controlled substances. A pharmacy department in a supermarket is another common situation which is useful in illustrating the distinction between “direct access” and “access”. Store personnel receiving pharmaceutical orders, i.e., the pharmacist, pharmacy intern, and other such employees working in the pharmacy department, would ordinarily have “direct access” to controlled substances. Other store personnel whose job duties and responsibilities do not include the handling of controlled substances but who had occasion to enter the pharmacy department where the controlled substances which are the subject of the investigation were stored, such as maintenance personnel or pharmacy cashiers, would have “access”. Certain other store personnel whose job duties do not permit or require entrance into the pharmacy department for any reason, such as produce or meat clerks, checkout cashiers, or baggers, would not ordinarily have “access.” However, any current employee, regardless of described job duties, may be polygraphed if the employer's investigation of criminal or other misconduct discloses that such employee in fact took action to obtain “access” to the person or property that is the subject of the investigation - e.g., by actually entering the drug storage area in violation of company rules. In the case of “direct access”, the prospective employee's access to controlled substances would be as a part of the manufacturing, dispensing or distribution process, while a current employee's “access” to the controlled substances which are the subject of the investigation need only be opportunistic.

(d) The term prospective employee, for the purposes of this section, includes a current employee who presently holds a position which does not entail direct access to controlled substances, and therefore is outside the scope of the exemption's provisions for preemployment polygraph testing, provided the employee has applied for and is being considered for transfer or promotion to another position which entails such direct access. For example, an office secretary may apply for promotion to a position in the vault or cage areas of a drug warehouse, where controlled substances are kept. In such a situation, the current employee would be deemed a “prospective employee” for the purposes of this exemption, and thus could be subject to preemployment polygraph screening, prior to such a change in position. However, any adverse action which is based in part on a polygraph test against a current employee who is considered a “prospective employee” for purposes of this section may be taken only with respect to the prospective position and may not affect the employee's employment in the current position.

(e) Section 7(f) of the Act makes no specific reference to a requirement that employers provide current employees with a written statement prior to polygraph testing. Thus, employers to whom this exemption is available are not required to furnish a written statement such as that specified in section 7(d) of the Act and § 801.12(a)(4) of this part.

(f) For the section 7(f) exemption to apply, the polygraph testing of current employees must be administered in connection with an ongoing investigation of criminal or other misconduct involving, or potentially involving, loss or injury to the manufacture, distribution, or dispensing of any such controlled substance by such employer.

(1) Current employees may only be administered polygraph tests in connection with an ongoing investigation of criminal or other misconduct, relating to a specific incident or activity, or potential incident or activity. Thus, an employer is precluded from using the exemption in connection with continuing investigations or on a random basis to determine if thefts are occurring. However, unlike the exemption in section 7(d) of the Act for employers conducting ongoing investigations of economic loss or injury, the section 7(f) exemption includes ongoing investigations of misconduct involving potential drug losses. Nor does the latter exemption include the requirement for “reasonable suspicion” contained in the section 7(d) exemption. Thus, a drug store employer is permitted to polygraph all current employees who have access to a controlled substance stolen from the inventory, or where there is evidence that such a theft is planned. Polygraph testing based on an inventory shortage of the drug during a particular accounting period would not be permitted unless there is extrinsic evidence of misconduct.

(2) In addition, the test must be administered in connection with loss or injury, or potential loss or injury, to the manufacture, distribution, or dispensing of a controlled substance.

(i) Retail drugstores and wholesale drug warehouses typically carry inventory of so-called health and beauty aids, cosmetics, over-the-counter drugs, and a variety of other similar products, in addition to their product lines of controlled drugs. The noncontrolled products usually constitute the majority of such firms' sales volumes. An economic loss or injury related to such noncontrolled substances would not constitute a basis of applicability of the section 7(f) exemption. For example, an investigation into the theft of a gross of cosmetic products could not be a basis for polygraph testing under section 7(f), but the theft of a container of valium could be.

(ii) Polygraph testing, with respect to an ongoing investigation concerning products other than controlled substances might be initiated under section 7(d) of the Act and § 801.12 of this part. However, the exemption in section 7(f) of the Act and this section is limited solely to losses or injury associated with controlled substances.

(g) Polygraph tests administered pursuant to this exemption are subject to the limitations set forth in sections 8 and 10 of the Act, as discussed in §§ 801.21, 801.22, 801.23, 801.24, 801.25, 801.26, and 801.35 of this part. As provided in these sections, the exemption will apply only if certain requirements are met. Failure to satisfy any of the specified requirements nullifies the statutory authority for polygraph test administration and may subject the employer to the assessment of civil money penalties and other remedial actions, as provided for in section 6 of the Act (see subpart E, § 801.40 of this part). The administration of such tests is also subject to State or local laws, or collective bargaining agreements, which may either prohibit lie detector tests, or contain more restrictive provisions with respect to polygraph testing.

[ 56 FR 9064, Mar. 4, 1991; 56 FR 14469, Apr. 10, 1991]

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