NTEU Lawsuit Over OPM Data Breaches Goes Back to Court

Press Release October 31, 2018

Washington D.C. – The National Treasury Employees Union returns to court on Friday to pursue its case against the U.S. Office of Personnel Management for recklessly disregarding its obligation to protect NTEU members’ personal information. That information was stolen in two sweeping data breaches announced in June 2015 affecting millions of current and former federal employees, among others. 

Three judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear arguments over whether NTEU’s lawsuit – dismissed by a lower court – should be reinstated.  NTEU has argued that the district court erred in assessing NTEU’s right to sue and its legal claim.

NTEU’s lawsuit will be heard on the same day as a separate lawsuit stemming from the OPM data breaches, which raises statutory and common law claims. NTEU’s lawsuit, in contrast, alleges a violation of the constitutional right to informational privacy.

“OPM recklessly disregarded its Inspector General’s urgent warnings for nearly a decade, facilitating the data breaches that exposed NTEU members’ deeply personal information,” said NTEU National President Tony Reardon.

Federal employees give OPM extensive personal information as a condition of their employment and do so on the explicit promise that OPM will keep that information confidential. OPM, despite that promise, ignored warnings year after year from its own internal watchdog about its dangerously deficient IT security, leading to the theft of the private information of 21.5 million individuals.

NTEU names three union members in its lawsuit, including a Customs and Border Protection employee who saw a fraudulent tax return filed in his name after the data breaches. The identity theft led to a several months-long delay in his receipt of his federal tax refund.

“The data breaches mean a lifetime of anxiety for current and retired federal employees who will always wonder whether the information OPM lost will be used to steal from them and their families,” Reardon said. “That is why NTEU will continue to demand that OPM take the necessary steps to secure its data and provide lifetime credit monitoring and identity theft protection for NTEU members affected by the breaches.”

The arguments are scheduled at 9:30 a.m. at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Courthouse in courtroom number 31.

NTEU represents 150,000 employees at 33 federal agencies and departments.