The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit largely sided with our union when it ruled that federal employees have standing to sue the government over its failure to protect employees’ personal data which led to one of the largest data breaches in U.S. history.
In reversing the decision of a district court, the appeals court sent the case back to the lower court, saying the court must hear the case on the merits.
“We conclude that not only do the incidents of identity theft that have already occurred illustrate the nefarious uses to which the stolen information may be put, but they also support the inference that [the plaintiffs] face a substantial—as opposed to a merely speculative or theoretical—risk of future identity theft,” wrote the appeals court.
AFGE in 2015 filed a lawsuit against the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) for its failure to heed warnings and obey security policies, leading to the disclosure of the personal records of 21.5 million individuals.
According to OPM, hackers stole Social Security numbers, birth dates, fingerprints and addresses, among other sensitive personal information. Our union is seeking free lifetime credit monitoring and liability insurance that covers the entirety of any loss attributable to the breach.
AFGE is determining the full implications of the ruling.
“Two years ago, nearly 22 million current and former federal employees, job applicants, and their family members had their most personal and sensitive information stolen from OPM in one of the largest cyberattacks in U.S. history,” said AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. “Everyone affected deserves to see that justice is served, and that’s why our union was the first organization to sue the federal government over the data breach.”