Financial considerations and revoking or denying security clearance

The federal government will revoke, suspend or deny security clearance for many reasons. Some of the most common reasons are personal conduct, which often includes lying on the application, a criminal history, or the appearance of foreign influence or foreign preference. Far and away the most common reason for denying or revoking security clearance is financial considerations. In 2015, the Department of Defense used financial considerations to deny hundreds of security clearance applications.

In many of these cases, individuals filed bankruptcy, had delinquent student loans, or were having trouble paying their mortgage. In rare cases, individuals had gambling debts that prevented them from gaining security clearance. Regardless of the type of debt, the government will look closely at any person with significant financial issues.

Why does the federal government analyze a person’s finances?

The federal government takes the position that individuals with significant debt are more likely to engage in illegal activities to pay their debts. People with serious financial problems may be at greater risk for selling classified or top-secret government information. When analyzing a person’s finances and their eligibility for security clearance, the government will consider many factors, including:

  • How the debts were incurred: For example, student loan debts are less damaging than debts incurred by reckless behavior
  • The steps the applicant took to mitigate the debt: Undertaking a repayment plan will be looked upon more favorably than taking steps to avoid repayment
  • How much debt was incurred: The larger the debt, the more likely the government will carefully scrutinize the person’s application

The law firm of Alan Lescht & Associates represents federal employees across the United States in security clearance matters. If you received a Statement of Reasons (SOR) that your security clearance was revoked or suspended, our lawyers are ready to take action. We can present an appeal before the appropriate agency and help you take appropriate steps to mitigate these concerns. Call 202-463-6036 to schedule a consultation.

You’ve received a Notice of Proposed Removal. What do you do next?

By sending a Notice of Proposed Removal, your agency is informing you that it intends to terminate your employment. As a federal employee, you have rights. You have the right to show your agency why your removal is unreasonable or unwarranted under the circumstances. It is critical to act quickly.

What are the timelines after a Notice of Proposed Removal?

Unless an employee is believed to have committed a crime, federal agencies must provide a minimum of 30 days notice to any employee who is being removed. Furthermore, the employee must have a reasonable time frame (at least seven days) to respond to the notice. Employees also have the right to an attorney. An attorney will be critical in presenting the strongest possible case in your support.

If an agency removes me, what do I do next?

Federal employees can appeal a removal. Most appeals go through the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). Depending on the circumstances, employees can appeal through the EEO or through a collectively-bargained grievance procedure. An appeal to the MSPB will involve discovery, in which you will have the opportunity to request documentation surrounding your removal and refine arguments in support of your position. Depending on the facts, these arguments could include:

  • The agency made a harmful error in applying its procedures
  • You were fired due to discrimination or on the basis of retaliation for whistleblowing
  • The penalty was excessive, disproportionate or otherwise unreasonable.

You will then have the opportunity to present your case in a hearing before an administrative judge. After getting a Notice of Proposed Removal, your choice of lawyer is a critical decision. With decades of experience in the field of federal employment law, the lawyers of Alan Lescht & Associates have successfully represented federal employees facing all types of actions, including removal. Our firm is ready to begin exploring all potential defenses to your removal. Call 202-463-6036 to schedule a consultation.

What are the most common EEO complaints federal employees file?

Federal employees facing discrimination, harassment or retaliation in the workplace have the right to bring an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint. These complaints can be powerful tools to hold employers accountable and to ensure that federal workplaces are as free as possible of illegal discrimination, harassment or retaliation.

Each year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) compiles data on EEO complaints. The most recent report, titled Annual Report on the Federal Work Force sheds light on the most common types of complaints federal employees make.

Retaliation is the biggest issue in EEO complaints

In fiscal year 2014, the most recent year this data was compiled, federal employees filed 15,013 EEO complaints, with many complaints involving multiple allegations. In 2014, federal employees filed 7,018 retaliation complaints. Under federal law, employers cannot take any adverse action against an employee who engages in a protected activity.

Harassment was a common allegation as well. In 2014, federal employees made 6,102 harassment complaints. These complaints do not relate to sexual harassment, but rather other allegations of illegal workplace harassment. Discrimination was frequently alleged as well, with age discrimination being the most common type of claim. In 2014, 4,697 federal employees filed age discrimination complaints. The second most common type of complaint was discrimination on the basis of race, with 3,838 complaints. Disability discrimination was a close third, with 3,817 complaints.

Any federal employee facing retaliation, discrimination or harassment at work should take careful steps to protect themselves. A skilled lawyer will be critical in presenting a powerful case based in the facts and law. Alan Lescht & Associates, based in Washington D.C., has a national practice representing federal employees in all types of EEO claims.