ATTN FEDERAL EMPLOYEES: Attorney Jay Stafford Discusses Whether Losing Your Security Clearance Means Losing Your Government Job in FEDweek
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Federal Security Clearance Lawyer Representing Employees and Contractors Nationwide

Federal security clearance lawyer Jay Stafford represents government employees, job applicants, and contractors in Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington D.C., and nationwide. He handles all types of federal security clearance matters, as well as matters involving background checks and determinations of suitability.

Obtaining federal security clearance can be an invasive and time-consuming process. But, once you receive federal security clearance, keeping your clearance is not guaranteed. The federal government can suspend or revoke employees’ and contractors’ clearances for a variety of different reasons; and, if the government determines you are not suitable for employment, this can put your entire career in jeopardy.

Nationwide Legal Representation for Federal Security Clearance and Related Matters

Our firm provides nationwide legal representation for all federal security clearance and related matters. Contact us today to speak with federal security clearance lawyer Jay Stafford about your needs in any of the following areas:

Security Clearance Applications

All individuals seeking federal employment positions or contracts that require access to sensitive information or restricted facilities are required to obtain a security clearance. This process typically begins with submitting either the Standard Form 86 Questionnaire for National Security Positions (SF-86) or Electronic Questionnaires for Investigations Processing (e-QIP) to the federal government.

Submitting a complete and accurate application is critically important, and it is just the first in a series of steps toward obtaining a federal security clearance. Attorney Jay Stafford can walk you through the entire process and help you proactively address any issues that could jeopardize your application.

Background Checks

After you submit your security clearance application, the federal government will conduct a background check (assuming your application meets the basic requirements for security clearance eligibility). How deep this background check goes depends on the level of security clearance you are seeking. In all cases, however, it is important to be prepared and anticipate any potential bars to security clearance the government is likely to uncover.

Suitability Determinations

Along with obtaining adequate security clearance, another key step in the federal employment process is suitability determination. Suitability determinations are position-specific, and factors that may not matter for certain government positions could lead to determinations of unsuitability in others. Broadly speaking, the factors the federal government may consider when making a suitability determination include:

  • Misconduct or negligence in employment
  • Criminal or dishonest conduct (not employment-related)
  • False statements, deception, or fraud made during an examination or appointment
  • Refusal to provide testimony in a federal investigation
  • Alcohol abuse or illegal use of controlled substances (without evidence of “substantial rehabilitation”)
  • Any other “statutory or regulatory bar” to employment in the position in question

Statement of Reasons

Before the federal government denies, suspends, or revokes your security clearance, it must provide you with a Statement of Reasons (SOR). If you have received an SOR, this is your opportunity to protect your security clearance or keep your application for clearance on track. You can submit a written response correcting any mistakes, explaining any apparent issues, denying any allegations against you, and providing any additional evidence that is necessary—and to do this properly, you will want to rely on the advice and representation of an experienced federal security clearance attorney.

Notice of Proposed Indefinite Suspension

If the federal government denies your security clearance application or determines that you should no longer have clearance, it will issue a notice of proposed indefinite suspension. An indefinite suspension means you will be placed “in a temporary status without duties and pay for an indeterminate period of time,” and it is only warranted in three limited circumstances:

  • The government “has reasonable cause to believe an employee has committed a crime for which a sentence of imprisonment could be imposed.”
  • The government “has legitimate concerns that an employee’s medical condition makes his continued presence in the workplace dangerous or inappropriate.”
  • The federal employee’s “access to classified information has been suspended and the employee must have such access to perform his job.”

If you have received a notice of proposed indefinite suspension, federal security clearance lawyer Jay Stafford can help you fight to avoid having an indefinite suspension imposed; or, if warranted, help you take the steps necessary to end your suspension as soon as possible.

Negative Suitability Determinations

If the federal government determines that you are not suitable for your desired position based on the suitability factors listed above, it will issue a determination of unsuitability. At this point, you should talk to a federal security clearance attorney to make sure you understand why you have been deemed unsuitable for federal employment and whether you have options for challenging the determination.

Suspension of Access to Classified Information

As an alternative to suspending a federal employee’s security clearance, the government may instead suspend an employee’s access to classified information. If your access to classified information has been suspended, you may be entitled to an appeal, and you will want to speak with a federal security clearance attorney promptly.

Administrative Hearings

In some cases, obtaining or protecting federal security clearance or a determination of suitability will involve presenting evidence and arguments at an administrative hearing. This could be a hearing before the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA), Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), or another federal agency. 

Each agency has its own unique set of rules and regulations for administrative hearings; and, as a result, it is important for job applicants, employees, and contractors to hire federal security clearance attorneys who are intimately familiar with the relevant procedures. With well over a decade of experience, attorney Jay Stafford provides skilled representation for administrative hearings before all relevant federal agencies.

Schedule a Confidential Consultation with Federal Security Clearance Attorney Jay Stafford

If you need experienced legal representation for a federal security clearance matter or determination of suitability, we encourage you to contact us for a confidential consultation. Call 410-514-6099 or send us a message online to schedule an appointment with federal employment lawyer Jay Stafford. We help clients nationwide.