In its first ruling involving the Hatch Act since it regained its quorum to again issue decisions, the MSPB board has upheld a settlement that involved a suspension of an employee on charges of running for a partisan office but that further allowed the employee to continue holding that office.
The Office of Special Counsel, which enforces that law, and a Postal Service employee had submitted that agreement to an MSPB hearing officer for approval and enforcement, but that officer disapproved of it, citing MSPB precedent against allowing an individual to continue holding such an office.
Before the board, the OSC argued that the agreement fell within 2012 revisions to the Hatch Act that gave MSPB wider discretion over setting penalties, whereas previously, the presumption was for firing in all cases.
The board agreed (in case No. 2022 MSPB 2), stating that under current law the agreement was within the scope of permissible penalties. It added that while under the law the MSPB typically conducts its own analysis of the situation in weighing a penalty, the stipulations of the parties may be sufficient to determine the appropriateness of the penalty.