“It’s probably safe to say that most employers have policies or procedures that discourage or prohibit the gross level of incivility seen in the recent presidential debates. That low bar of behavior aside, there are things which an employer can and should do regarding political discussions in the workplace. Divisive political discussions, which at times can turn into religious discussions, can damage morale or worse, or lead to grievances, charges or lawsuits. Discussed below are some topics for employers to consider between now and the end of the current campaign season.”
“BOUNDARIES OF THE FIRST AMENDMENT - Employees in the private sector may be under the impression that they have “First Amendment rights” to express their political opinions in the workplace. This is not true. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution reads:
‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.’”
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Our author, Barbara G. Stephenson, is a shareholder/director with Sheehan & Sheehan, P.A. Her area of practice is in employment and labor law (representing employers only), with 25% of her practice devoted to litigation. She has successfully defended local and national employers against a wide variety of employment charges and lawsuits.