NASA Employees Sue over Background Checks
This is a big deal:
Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientists and engineers sued NASA and the California Institute of Technology on Thursday, challenging extensive new background checks that the space exploration center and other federal agencies began requiring in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
But according to the lawsuit, the Commerce Department and NASA instituted requirements that employees and contractors permit sweeping background checks to qualify for credentials and refusal would mean the loss of their jobs.
NASA calls on employees to permit investigators to delve into medical, financial and past employment records, and to question friends and acquaintances about everything from their finances to sex lives, according to the suit. The requirements apply to everyone from janitors to visiting professors.
The suit claims violations of the U.S. Constitution’s 4th Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure, 14th Amendment protection against invasion of the right to privacy, the Administrative Procedure Act, the Privacy Act, and rights under the California Constitution.
Those in more sensitive positions are asked to disclose financial records, list foreign trips and give the government permission to view their medical history.
Workers also must sign a waiver giving investigators access to virtually all personal information.
“Many of the plaintiffs only agreed to work for NASA with the understanding that they would not have to work on classified materials or to undergo any type of security clearance,” the suit said.