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Workplace Political Speech Dos and Don’ts

Particularly in a hotly contested election cycle, California employers should take care not to discriminate against workers for political activities, affiliations or speech. Management  should be familiar with and apply these laws:

  • Labor Code section 1101 prohibits employers from any rule or policy to: (i) prevent an employee from engaging in political activities or seeking public office; or (ii) control or direct such activities or affiliations.
  • Labor Code section 1102  bars employers from coercing or influencing workers into a specific course or line of political activity. For example, an employer may not threaten to fire a worker who campaigns or votes for a particular candidate or talks about doing so.
  • California’s Ralph Civil Rights Act prohibits actual or threatened violence because of someone’s political affiliation.

Employers have the right to ensure workers are productive and not using paid work time to engage in unrelated activities.  Policy and practice should respect employee political activity that does not interfere with work while permitting discussion of employment issues such as benefits and wages.

Management should adequately document actions to resolve any alleged abuse of these rules.

As long as an employer abides by these limitations, management may communicate their political beliefs and positions to workers. See, the California Chamber of Commerce’s  Guidelines for Political Communications to Employees.

TAKE-AWAYS:  Management must respect employee political speech that does not interfere with production.  Employers should also know the limitations of communicating political views to workers.

For further assistance, please contact one of our attorneys Tim BowlesCindy Bamforth or Helena Kobrin.

See also:

Helena Kobrin
October 21, 2022

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