Federal Employee Union Sues Over OPM Hack, Citing Financial and Emotional Distress

OPM Director Katherine Archuleta testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 25, 2015.

OPM Director Katherine Archuleta testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 25, 2015. Susan Walsh/AP

Agency Director Katherine Archuleta and CIO Donna Seymour are named in the class action lawsuit.

The nation's largest federal employee union Monday filed a class action lawsuit against top officials at the Office of Personnel Management for the massive government data breach that exposed the personal information of millions of current and former federal employees.

A complaint filed in U.S. District Court by the American Federation of Government Employees names the agency, OPM Director Katherine Archuleta, OPM Chief Information Officer Donna Seymour, and background check contractor KeyPoint Management Systems as defendants.

The lawsuit contends the breach has caused financial as well as emotional harm.

The litigation stems from OPM data breaches that compromised personnel records on 4.2 million former and current federal employees, as well as intimate background investigations on an unknown number of personnel with access to classified information. The hacks were disclosed earlier this month.

Attackers believed to be sponsored by a nation state allegedly stole a KeyPoint employee's credential to access the government's network, according to congressional testimony last week.

The union alleges OPM violated the Privacy Act by neglecting to comply with federal information security statutes and inspector general recommendations. Since 2007, according to the complaint, OPM officials have been aware of security weaknesses and failed to take steps to tighten controls as advised.

"Although they were forewarned about the potential catastrophe that government employees faced, OPM's data security got worse rather than better," officials said in a statement released Monday evening.

After infiltrating the agency's networks in 2013, intruders first stole server manuals that could have given attackers a map of OPM's IT environment and then ultimately purloined private details on federal employees.

The union claims employees have suffered or will suffer from "pecuniary losses, anxiety and emotional distress," caused by among other things the compromise of personal information belonging to themselves, relatives, neighbors and acquaintances contained in investigative records.

"Despite putting government employees and their loved ones at significant personal and financial risk, OPM has failed to reveal the full scope of who was specifically impacted by the data breach and the extent of the information taken," union officials said.

Last week, testimony on Capitol Hill revealed investigators are struggling to understand the scope of the attack partly because OPM and KeyPoint lacked sufficient computer logs.

The group is demanding a jury trial.

"Since the agency is unwilling to provide adequate assistance, AFGE is taking unprecedented steps to gather more information for our members and hold the agency accountable," union officials said.

KeyPoint officials have said there is no evidence the company was responsible for or directly involved in the breach. Archuleta has said no one in the government is personally responsible for the incident; rather, the well-funded attackers should be blamed for the penetration. Chinese foreign intelligence operatives are believed to be connected to the hacks.

The lawsuit also claims "the credit monitoring services that OPM provided have not only fallen short, but actually created more potential security risks for employees," officials added. Victims have expressed frustration with customer service and inaccurate information provided by ID theft protection firm CSID.

The suit was filed on behalf of AFGE as well as union members Robert Crawford, a Federal Railroad Administration inspector, and Michigan resident Adam Dale, a former Social Security Administration attorney.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.