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On the Job: What should I know about security clearances?

by PoP Sponsor September 25, 2017 at 12:15 pm 0

This column is written and sponsored by Alan Lescht & Associates, PC, an employment litigation firm in Washington, DC, that handles cases involving contract disputes, wage and hour issues, discrimination and retaliation, wrongful termination, whistleblower retaliation and security clearances.

Will my underage drinking arrest prevent me from getting a security clearance?

Can I get a clearance if I smoked pot?

Can the government revoke my clearance because of my bad credit?

Can I get a security clearance?

Many federal employees and contractors need security clearances. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is a federal government agency that determines who is eligible to hold a clearance. OPM considers numerous factors, such as:

  • Allegiance to the United States
  • Foreign influence
  • Foreign preference
  • Sexual behavior
  • Personal conduct
  • Financial considerations, including falling behind on bills or loans
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Drug involvement
  • Emotional, mental and personality disorders
  • Criminal conduct
  • Security violations
  • Outside activities
  • Misuse of Information Technology systems

If OPM denies your clearance application, you can appeal the decision. On appeal, you can argue that you are trustworthy despite past misconduct. For example, if your clearance is denied because of past drug use, it may be helpful to present evidence that you no longer use drugs, that you only used drugs during a certain period of time (e.g., during college), that you no longer associate with the friends you used to do drugs with and that you completed counseling for drug use.

Can I ever lose my clearance?

Your security clearance can be suspended or revoked at any time. The government can challenge your clearance based on your workplace conduct, as well as events that occur off-duty.

If your clearance is challenged, you will receive a document called the Statement of Reasons (SOR). The SOR should explain all of the reasons that the government proposes to suspend or revoke your clearance. The SOR should also explain your rights, especially your right to respond to the SOR in writing.

The government will consider various factors in making a decision. For example, it may be helpful to present evidence that you voluntarily reported the alleged misconduct, were truthful in responding to questions about the misconduct, sought assistance and followed professional guidance and made positive changes in your behavior.

Submitting an effective response to the SOR is crucial; if you lose a security clearance that is required for you to keep your job, you may be removed from your employment.

Do you have questions?

If you have questions about security clearances, contact Alan Lescht and Associates today. Call us at (202) 463-6036, send us an email or visit our website and blog. Our 13 attorneys have successfully represented clients whose clearances were denied, suspended or revoked. Super Lawyers, Washingtonian, Newsweek, AVVO and others have recognized us as a leading employment firm in DC.

DISCLAIMER: This article is for general information purposes and is provided only to permit you to learn about Alan Lescht and Associates, P.C., and its services. This information is subject to change, may not apply in all cases and does not constitute legal advice. Contact an attorney to obtain legal advice about your case.

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