The Hatch Act of 1939 (also referred to as the Act to Prevent Pernicious Political Activities) is a federal law that prevents certain federal employees from engaging in some types of political activity. Federal employees in the executive branch need to understand exactly how this act applies to them.
The penalties under this act are extremely harsh, and can even include immediate termination and a bar from federal service.
At HKM Employment Attorneys LLP, our firm defends federal employees who have been accused of a Hatch Act violation. If you have been charged with a Hatch Act violation, we can help you fight to protect your legal rights. We will comprehensively review your claim and determine exactly what needs to be done to get you the best result possible.
What is Prohibited Under the Hatch Act?
Executive branch employees who are covered by the Hatch Act must not use their position to affect a political campaign. Specifically, executive branch federal employees cannot:
- Attempt to use their official authority to influence any American election;
- Use their position to accept or solicit political contributions, with limited exceptions;
- Use their official authority to encourage or discourage the political activities of others; and
- Engage in political activities when on duty, when in a federal government building, when in official uniform or while using federal government property.
The Enforcement of the Hatch Act
In general, the Hatch Act is enforced by the Office of Special Counsel (OSC). The OSC is responsible for investigating Hatch Act complaints when filed, and then determining whether or not a violation actually occurred. If a violation did occur, the OSC must then determine what, if any, enforcement action is appropriate given the circumstances. For the lowest level of offense, the OSC may simply send a warning letter to the employee in question, informing them that their conduct is unlawful or questionable. For serious violations, the OSC may file charges against the accused federal worker.
When charges are filed, the Hatch Act violation case will be handled by the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). After the MSPB hears a case, it has the authority to issue sanctions against the federal worker who committed the offense. Notably, penalties can be quite severe in these cases. In fact, a Hatch Act violation can result in removal from federal service. Additionally, an individual can be barred from federal employment for up to five years. Our firm fights hard on behalf of federal workers to get charges dismissed and penalties reduced to a reprimand or short suspension, instead of the more serious consequences.
Contact Our Employment Law Team Today
The United States government takes Hatch Act violations extremely seriously. If you are a federal employee who has been accused of a Hatch Act violation, you need to seek immediate legal assistance. We can help. At HKM Employment Attorneys LLP, we have offices in Los Angeles, Denver, Las Vegas, Seattle, Portland and we represent federal workers in Hatch Act cases in all 50 states.