Employment Misconduct Issues and Your Security Clearance
Demonstrating good judgment and reliability by following rules and procedures in the workplace is a significant factor for determining eligibility for access to national security information, as a recent DoD security clearance applicant found out. In this particular Defense Office of Hearing and Appeals case, the employee was issued a statement of reasons for a pattern of a failure to follow rules in employment resulting in terminations. The judge also considered the applicant’s inconsistent statements and lack of full disclosure about the details of the incidents that resulted in his getting fired from two jobs.
Workplace Issues and Your Clearance
This type of issue falls under Personal Conduct in the adjudicative guidelines and evaluates a person’s honesty, integrity, judgment, trustworthiness, and reliability. When related specifically to employment or work performance, multiple issues like a rebellious attitude towards management, failure to follow rules, lying to cover up mistakes, tardiness, or safety violations all lend to a pattern of dishonesty, irresponsibility, and untrustworthiness. This is not to say that anyone who is terminated from employment will get denied a clearance. The key point to take away is this: If you are following the rules at work and there are no misconduct issues that led to termination, it will not reflect negatively on you as long as you provide full disclosure when required.
The problem we have these days with getting accurate and honest feedback about an applicant from employers during background investigations is the recent trend of corporate policies that limit what information is released for fear of lawsuit. As a result, we are left with minimal information that just checks the block. Even Federal agencies seem reluctant to provide full disclosure for fear that a former employee will bring an EEO or MSPB complaint. Speaking of MSPB, it is my opinion that regardless of whatever settlement agreement terms are negotiated in an MSPB case, full disclosure of the circumstances of their termination should be required if that individual applies for another federal position, clearance requirement or not. Many agencies settle cases so they can cut their ties with the individual and move on. This would prevent a lot of personnel baggage being passed around from one agency to another.