On December 19, 2012, Congress passed the Hatch Act Modernization Act of 2012 (the Act). The Act modifies the penalty structure for violations of the Hatch Act by federal employees. The changes became effective on January 27, 2013. Under the modified penalty structure, an employee who violates the Hatch Act is subject to a range of disciplinary actions. This includes removal from federal service, reduction in grade, debarment from federal employment for a period not to exceed 5 years, suspension, reprimand, or a civil penalty not to exceed $1,000. (Before enactment of these amendments, an employee was subject to removal, or in some cases, a suspension of no less than 30 days for Hatch Act violations). The modified penalty structure applies to violations that occurred before, on, or after January 27, 2013, unless OSC has already initiated a complaint with the Merit Systems Protection Board as of that date, or an employee has already entered into a settlement agreement with OSC.