Fedweek Legal

Image: Andy.LIU/Shutterstock.com

Jamaal "Jay" W. Stafford, Esq.

If you work for the federal government and your position requires a specific level of security clearance, losing your security clearance could mean losing your job. National security is serious business, and, although there are some exceptions, the federal government generally requires employees to maintain adequate clearance to remain employed.

While a security clearance can be difficult to obtain, it can be surprisingly easy to lose. The federal government can revoke employees’ security clearance for a variety of reasons. However, before revoking an employee’s security clearance, the federal government must provide notice of intent and an opportunity to respond (in most cases); and, if you lose your clearance, you may have grounds to file an appeal.


What Should You Do if You are Concerned about Losing Your Security Clearance?

Let’s say you are concerned about losing your security clearance. Maybe something happened at work or in your personal life, or perhaps you received a Notice of Intent to Revoke. What should you do?

If you are concerned about losing your security clearance, it will be important to deal with your situation proactively. While there are options for appealing a revocation (as discussed below), it is best to protect your security clearance against revocation if possible.

With this in mind, the first thing you need to do is try to understand why your security clearance is at risk. Is there a valid justification (i.e., you committed a serious security violation at work), or are the grounds for revocation less clear? Often, the reason for a proposed security clearance revocation will not be obvious to the employee. There are several grey areas, and, unfortunately, retaliatory and discriminatory security clearance revocations are concerns for many federal employees as well.

Once you figure out why your security clearance is at risk, you can shift your focus to fighting to protect it. Most often, this starts with filing a written response to the Notice of Intent to Revoke. While you have the option to try to handle this on your own, due to the challenges and stakes involved, it is generally best to hire an experienced federal employment lawyer to represent you.

What Should You Do if You Have Lost Your Security Clearance?

If you have lost your security clearance, you will want to do what you can to gain it back. While this won’t be an option in all cases, many federal employees will be able to appeal their revocations successfully. Depending on the circumstances involved, this may mean filing an appeal with the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), submitting a written rebuttal to a Statement of Reasons (SOR), going to the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA), or pursuing other appropriate administrative channels.


Similar to fighting to avoid revocation, fighting to overturn a revocation requires a clear understanding of the grounds on which the revocation is based. From lack of willfulness to proof of retaliation or discrimination, there are numerous arguments federal employees can potentially use to have their security clearances restored. The key is to present a compelling argument in light of the unique facts of your case, and, here too, you will want to work with an experienced lawyer to make sure you are presenting the strongest case possible.

Attorney Jamaal “Jay” W. Stafford is an experienced litigator who has a history of successfully representing federal employees facing challenges in the workplace. There are numerous laws that protect federal government employees in various aspects of their employment and Jay is prepared to deal with the government and fight for a quick and appropriate resolution. Jay sees the big picture, allowing him to consistently maximize the benefits his clients receive while curtailing their concessions. He takes pride in providing clear guidance on the law, formulating effective strategies to resolve his clients’ problems, and being responsive and proactive with his client communications. For more information, visit https://www.staffordtrialteam.com/attorney-profile/