While criminal background checks may still be optional, at least one security company is not taking any chances on its employees' political opinions. In December 1994, Mel Thompson filed suit against Borg-Warner in San Francisco, alleging that the company used a political litmus test as part of its interview process for job applicants. Borg-Warner subjected California guard applicants to a 100-question survey which the company acknowledges is designed to examine the job seekers' degree of alienation and trustworthiness. Test takers are graded on an alienation index, with a goal of hiring those most likely to follow the rules. According to Thompson's attorney, a non-alienated person is somebody who believes in traditional values of free enterprise ... The only persons that are likely to do well are people with very traditional political beliefs, the small-town Republicans.

Applicants are asked the following true or false questions:
Nearly a third of the test's questions focus on attitudes toward corporate authority. Thompson was rejected after he answered such questions incorrectly with a question mark. His legal team, which includes the ACLU, states that the questions on the test are not ones that have anything to do with a security guard.

Lawyers for Thompson contend that Borg-Warner's political litmus test violates the state's labor code which prohibits job discrimination because of political affiliation or participation. In March, a federal judge rebuffed an attempt by Borg-Warner to have the suit dismissed. Thompson's attorneys are currently preparing a class-action suit, the first-ever legal challenge to a political pre-employment test. Ed Chen of the ACLU believes that if the suit is successful, this case will nip in the bud a potentially dangerous trend of hiring on the basis of one's political beliefs.

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