For those readers who don’t already know, I work with the Federal Government. Thanks to the Hatch Act I am limited in my political activity and expression during political campaign season. Today an announcement was made regarding those limitations on federal employees, including the USPS regarding these restrictions.
(USPS.com) — During this election season, Postal Service™ employees should be mindful of the Hatch Act. The Hatch Act is a federal law that restricts the political activity of federal employees, including Postal Service employees.
Activities Prohibited by the Hatch Act
Under the Hatch Act, postal employees may not engage in political activity while on duty; while wearing a uniform, badge, insignia, or other similar item that identifies the Postal Service; while in a government building; or while in a government vehicle or a privately owned vehicle that is being used in the discharge of official duties. Political activity is any act directed toward the success or failure of a political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group.
As such, postal employees may not wear shirts, hats, buttons, or any other items that display the name or likeness of any current political candidate or political party while at work or on the clock. In addition, with a few limited exceptions, postal employees may not display photographs of current candidates at their workstations, in their cubicles, and in their offices. Postal employees may not distribute campaign literature on postal property or while otherwise on duty or in a uniform.
I assure you I am none too pleased with the memo distributed this morning which conveyed the same basic message above. However, I am as vocal at work as I am when writing this blog, so it’s no surprise that I was a bit frustrated when I was told I couldn’t display political messages and pictures at my work station.
But being the crafty individual that I am, this is but a mere bump in the road. I have already devised a possible solution to my problem.
After quizzing my supervisor with very pointed and specific questions as to what exactly was permitted and prohibited, I have in deed found the loop-hole I needed.
Here’s what I learned as a result of those questions:
- It is not prohibited to post a message encouraging people to vote at my work station. Basically I am permitted to type out or write on a piece of paper that everyone needs to vote in the upcoming election.
- I am not prohibited from posting a message with a verbatim quote from a religious text. For example I am permitted to quote a bible verse and I cannot be forced to remove it unless every employee in my Post Office is required to remove every non-postal photo, saying, calendar, etc. because you cannot censor religious content because it is religious content. Since I work for a government agency, they essentially are limited in what they can restrict. A private employer could, where a government employer would be violating my protected First Amendment right to free speech.
Therefore, these completely unrelated items will be on display at my work station: