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

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