A Federal appeals court found that Federal employees have standing to sue the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) for harms caused by the agency’s 2015 data breach that affected 21 million people, according to an opinion released June 21.

The decision, which applies to two suits brought by the National Treasury Employees Union and the American Federation of Government Employees, respectively, reversed a district court decision that found that the unions did not have standing to sue OPM and its contractor KeyPoint Government Solutions.

“Plaintiffs have stated a claim for damages under the Privacy Act, and have unlocked OPM’s waiver of sovereign immunity, by alleging OPM’s knowing refusal to establish appropriate information security safeguards,” the court finding said.

While the District Court found that the risk of identity theft is not “substantial,” the Appellate Court disagreed.

“There is no question that the OPM hackers, too, now have in their possession all the information needed to steal Plaintiffs’ identities,” the ruling stated.

The case will return to the District Court level, where the cases’ merits will be decided.

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MeriTalk Staff