Hatch Act United States
The Hatch Act is a federal law that prohibits certain political activities by federal employees. The law was passed in 1939 to prevent political coercion in the workplace and to ensure that federal employees are advancing based on merit and not based on political affiliation.
Applies to all civilian employees of the executive branch, including the White House staff, the departments, and independent agencies. It also applies to some employees of state and local governments who work in connection with federally funded programs.
The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from:
- Running for office in a partisan election.
- Taking an active part in a political campaign.
- Soliciting or accepting political contributions.
- Using their official authority to influence an election.
There are some exceptions to the Hatch Act. Federal employees are allowed to:
- Vote in elections.
- Express their political opinions in private.
- Join a political party or political organization.
- Volunteer for political campaigns, as long as they do not use their official authority to do so.
Employees who violate the may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including removal from federal service.
The Hatch-Act is enforced by the Office of Special Counsel (OSC). The OSC is an independent agency that investigates allegations of Hatch Act violations and takes appropriate action.
The Hatch-Act is a complex law, and there are many nuances to its interpretation. If you are a federal employee and you have questions about the Hatch Act, you should consult with your supervisor or the OSC.
Image creditIndiana State Library and Historical Bureau, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons