Recently, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) filed a lawsuit in response to the guidelines that prevent federal employees from engaging in partisan political activity on social media.
Federal employees are not prohibited from using social media. However, their social media activities must comply with the Federal Government Standards of Conduct and any other agency-specific policies.
Political Activity and Social Media
The Hatch Act restricts a federal employee from participation in certain partisan political activities, which includes some social media activities. The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has specific social media guidelines for federal employees that clearly explain when it is and isn’t acceptable for federal employees to engage in political activity on social media. The guidelines state that, in order to comply with the Hatch Act, employees are prohibited from doing the following on social media:
On Duty or in the Workplace Prohibition – Employees may not engage in any political activity while on duty or in the federal workplace.
24/7 Prohibition – Employees may not knowingly solicit, accept, or receive a political contribution for a political party, a candidate in a partisan race, or partisan political group.
24/7 Prohibition – Employees may not use their official authority or influence to affect the outcome of an election.
Personal statements can be mistaken as an official stance of a government agency policy or position. When an employee posts on their own personal social media account, they must be careful to ensure that their account does not reflect the opinion of a government agency.
More specifically, federal employees must follow specific social media policies in and out of the workplace, including:
Government social media policies from the Hatch Act. Image Credit: The U.S. Office of Special Counsel
Wrongful Termination due to Social Media Use
Social media use can be cause for termination if you do not follow the guidelines. However, if you feel that you have been wrongfully terminated because of something you posted on your social media accounts, don’t hesitate to contact our Washington D.C. federal employment Attorneys John P. Mahoney, Esq.today.
Call John P. Mahoney, Esq., Attorneys at Law at (202) 759-7780 if you have been wrongfully terminated due to your social media use.