Q & A Session – Hatch Act


Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.


Regarding the Hatch Act, I know that jokes in email, blogs, etc., are out of bounds. But can one employee show another an Onion parody of the Republican National Convention speaker lineup on a piece of paper? In the workplace as a sidebar?

On one hand, it is a newspaper. On the other, it was pretty funny.


There’s an allowance for what are called “water cooler” discussions, and it sounds like what you are talking about may fit that exception. Still, it is best to keep politics out of the federal workplace. And, if you are a supervisor, do not show your Onion article to a subordinate. It will likely be misinterpreted.

Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC.

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About Author

Debra Roth

Debra L. Roth is a partner at the law firm Shaw Bransford & Roth, a federal employment law firm in Washington, D.C. She is general counsel to the Senior Executives Association and the Federal Managers Association, host of the “FEDtalk” program on Federal News Radio, and a regular contributor to Federal News Radio’s “Federal Drive” morning show. Email your legal questions to lawyer@federaltimes.com.

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