Privacy is Limited for Federal Employees, Says U.S. Supreme Court

By Thomas McKinney

In NASA v. Nelson (January 19, 2011), the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled that NASA’s standard background check for its contract employees does not violate the constitutional right to privacy.  The background check, which is similar to that used for other federal job applicants, includes asking whether the employee has used or possessed illegal drugs during the past year.  If so, the employee must give information about any drug treatment or counseling he received.  The job applicants also must sign a release allowing the federal government to ask references about “any reason to question” the employee’s honesty. The Supreme Court reasoned that the background checks are necessary given the government’s interest in hiring trustworthy employees for jobs serving the public.

January 20, 2011 – Castronovo & McKinney, LLC – Paul Castronovo

About the Author
Tom McKinney is an experienced NJ Employment Lawyer in all major areas of labor and employment law, including discrimination, harassment, overtime violations, wage and hour claims, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, Title VII, ADA, ADEA, FMLA, LAD, FLSA, and all other employment law claims. Tom is admitted to practice in the States of New Jersey and New York, United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Southern District of New York, District of New Jersey, and United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Prior to forming the firm, Tom practiced at Gibbons P.C. in Newark, NJ. If you have any questions regarding this article, contact Tom here today.