It is common for people, including federal employees, to feel passionate about politics and the political parties or ideals they associate with.
Participation in political elections is important. However, federal employees must be careful not to violate the Hatch Act, a federal law in place to protect democracy.
This law prohibits federal employees from engaging in certain activities that can influence an election, among other activities that can lead to unlawful behavior under the law.
What is the Hatch Act?
The Hatch Act is a federal law that prohibits federal employees from engaging in certain political activities while on duty, while wearing a uniform, while in a government building or while using government equipment.
What is the purpose of the Hatch Act?
The purpose of the Hatch Act is to prevent federal employees from using their positions to influence political campaigns or elections and, ultimately, to protect democracy.
What are examples of Hatch Act violations?
- Engaging in political activities while on duty
- Engaging in political activity inside a government building
- Using government equipment, such as a computer or a phone, for political purposes
- Wearing a political button or displaying political materials while on duty
- Running for partisan political office while employed in a federal position
- Soliciting or accepting political contributions while on duty or in a government building
What happens if someone violates the Hatch Act?
Violations of the Hatch Act are considered severe. The employee can be subject to disciplinary action, including suspension, demotion, termination and in extreme circumstances, criminal charges.
In the event of disciplinary action, the federal employee has the right to appeal the adverse disciplinary action in front of the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).
The Hatch Act is one of many federal laws in place to protect the government and its branches from improper and unlawful influence. It is critical for federal employees to understand the importance of this law and to prevent committing any violation of the Act.