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by PoP Sponsor February 12, 2018 at 12:15 pm 0

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, a local employment and labor law firm that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq.,

In our last post we discussed the security clearance application process. This week we’ll focus on how to prepare for the security clearance investigative interview.

If an individual believes that there is a good chance that problem areas exist in a security clearance application, he or she should expect to be asked about these areas by the assigned investigator. The investigative interview can vary in duration from an hour to several hours depending on whether significant security concerns exist.

Early preparation for the security clearance interview can help the individual’s confidence when meeting with the investigator and minimize any problem areas. Unfortunately, many individuals go into the interviews without thinking about or preparing for the issues that could arise and often provide incomplete information.

Don‘t react defensively to security clearance questions

It is important to be calm and positive about the issues when speaking to an investigator. In addition, arguing with an investigator will never benefit an individual since the investigator can have significant influence over the application process in the initial stages.

Be courteous and professional with the investigator

It is important for all applicants to treat the investigator with professionalism. If an investigator attempts to contact you, be timely and courteous in your response. Even if it is inconvenient to meet or return calls, not doing so could be detrimental. Promptly responding to the investigator can give the investigator a positive impression, especially if the investigator will be providing a recommendation regarding your ability to obtain or retain a clearance.

Be patient during the security clearance process

It is important to understand that the security clearance process can often take a few months to complete depending upon a number of other factors, including:

  • Whether the individual is a federal employee or government contractor
  • The number or significance of the security concerns
  • Delays in obtaining responses from federal agencies in seeking an investigative file
  • The general investigative backlog
  • The specific employer involved

There are a multitude of other considerations that can also delay adjudication so it is important to remain patient during the investigation.

If you need assistance with a security clearance issue, please contact our office at (703)668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also like and visit us on Facebook.

by PoP Sponsor January 29, 2018 at 12:15 pm 0

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, a local employment and labor law firm that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq.,

The District is home to many federal employees and government contractors that hold security clearances. These federal employees and government contractors are required to apply for and maintain security clearances. In some cases, the security clearance application process is straightforward.

However, if problems arise, they are typically discovered when the employee or contractor is about to complete his or her security clearance application through e-QIP or the government’s Standard Form 86. If possible, you should seek the advice of an experienced attorney who handles security clearance matters since each case is different. The following are some general guidelines:

Take time and answer security clearance forms carefully

This is one of the most important tips. Individuals often receive clearance denials because they did not adequately read the questions asked or proofread their responses on the e-QIP/SF-86 application prior to submission.

In some cases, if an individual does not take the time to read the question and answers “no,” when they should have answered “yes,” a clearance investigator might conclude that the individual was attempting to be dishonest. Such an oversight can be detrimental to obtaining or keeping a security clearance.

Be honest

This recommendation cannot be overstated. Individuals should be honest in all aspects of the clearance process. When an individual is dishonest during the clearance process, it could not only potentially bar the individual from receiving a security clearance, which would remain on his or her clearance record, but it could also raise a host of other legal issues, including potential criminal issues.

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by PoP Sponsor January 16, 2018 at 12:15 pm 0

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By Kimberly H. Berry, Esq.

When an employee has been accused of engaging in workplace misconduct, the employer will sometimes conduct an administrative or internal investigation. Some reasons why employers investigate employees include discrimination complaints, threats against others, safety problems and workplace theft.

Purpose of Workplace Investigations

The purpose of workplace investigations is for the employer to gather relevant evidence regarding the employee’s alleged misconduct and determine whether the misconduct warrants a disciplinary or an adverse action (e.g., termination or significant suspension) within the requirements established by law, policy or regulation or with respect to the employer’s own liability.

Occasionally, these types of investigations can lead to a potential criminal investigation. Depending on whether the employer is federal, the District of Columbia, Virginia or involves a private employer, a supervisor or other designated investigator may be asked to conduct an investigation regarding the facts at issue. Employees may then be asked to provide verbal or written responses to questions regarding the alleged misconduct.

Duties to Cooperate

During an investigation, an investigator (often a law firm) will be hired to conduct a workplace investigation. They will review documents related to the investigation and/or interview witnesses, depending on the investigation. Employees, depending on their particular employer, may have a duty to fully cooperate with an assigned investigator or can decline to participate in the investigation unless they are ordered to do so.

For example, federal employees may decline to participate in an administrative investigation if it is voluntary. Refusing to cooperate with an investigation or providing false statements or answers during an investigation can be grounds for disciplinary action. Providing false statements, if made to a federal or other law enforcement investigator, can also subject an employee to potential criminal penalties. (more…)

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