Tim McGlone reports for the Virginian-Pilot. Excerpt:
NORFOLK — A former Smithfield Packing Co. saleswoman has sued the meat giant and two supervisors, claiming the company illegally tried to force her to take a lie-detector test after she filed a sexual harassment complaint.
Julie M. Bannister, a married mother of three, also claims in court papers that a supervisor defamed her by spreading false rumors that she had been having an affair with a customer.
Bannister has filed two lawsuits in Norfolk federal court. One suit, filed Friday against Smithfield and a former supervisor, Joseph Weber, claims Weber defamed her. The other, filed Sept. 13, claims violations of the federal Employee Polygraph Protection Act. Bannister is seeking $18 million.
The polygraph lawsuit hinges on a federal law that prohibits private companies in most instances from requiring or even asking an employee to take a lie-detector test. Exemptions exist for security and armored car companies, nuclear power plants, government workers and anyone in the national security field. The test also is allowed for certain suspected criminal offenses.