With primary elections approaching, now is a good time to reiterate a few rules under the Hatch Act. The federal law, which was most recently amended in 2012, forbids federal workers from doing a number of things, all of which are political. Federal employees are forbidden to take part in political activities while at work or on federal property; receive or solicit political contributions while on duty; and run for office in a partisan election.
If a federal employee is found to be in violation of the Hatch Act, then he or she could face disciplinary action or removal. The Office of Special Counsel recently took such action against an employee of the United States Postal Service.
The OSC found that twice the employee had run for election to the U.S. House of Representatives. The employee was removed from his position.
According to FEDweek, the OSC also recently took disciplinary action against an IRS employee who was accused of pressuring taxpayers over the phone to re-elect President Obama. The employee was suspended from work for 100 days.
When applied properly, the Hatch Act protects the integrity of the federal government while avoiding violations of employees’ First Amendment rights. Use of social media has sparked an increase in Hatch Act cases, and employees facing disciplinary action or removal should be aware of their legal options.
If you are being investigated by your employer, then remember that you have rights. Employers must provide proper notification of discipline or removal, and the Civil Service Reform Act gives employees the right to challenge disciplinary or removal actions before the Merit Systems Protection Board.
Source: FEDweek, USPS Employee Who Ran for House Seat Removed,” July 18, 2014