JPL Staffers Sue Government

Caltech and JPL declined to comment on the suit, which a NASA official said would be referred to the Department of Justice. None of the employees involved in the suit are working on classified projects.

Both local members of Congress, Adam Schiff and David Dreier, have expressed concern about the issue. �Congressman Dreier shares their concerns regarding personal privacy,� said Alisa Do, Dreier�s legislative director. Schiff said, �We must be vigilant to ensure that whatever personal information is obtained from those who work at our science centers is necessary to maintain security and used for only that purpose.�

Employees at Caltech�s Jet Propulsion Laboratory will be in court Sept. 24 to fight a government order requiring what they term as intrusive background checks into their personal lives.

A total of 28 plaintiffs joined in the action against the Department of Commerce, JPL and California Institute of Technology, which manages the space program. The suit is structured to possibly become a class action with many more plaintiffs.

The suit was filed by the Pasadena firm of Hadsell & Stormer, and is being financed in part by contributions from JPL employees.

Under an executive order, employees and contractors at JPL must sign an open-ended waiver giving the government access to all personal records. According to the plaintiffs, the information sought could include sexual issues, bad checks and traffic violations.

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