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Can Employees Express Political Views at Work?

employees political views

Perhaps nothing can divide the office faster than bringing up political views. Political discussion can affect productivity, and it can also create a hostile work environment. Employees should be aware of common misconceptions regarding political views in the workplace.

A lot of employees may believe that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of speech at work. The First Amendment applies to government action, it does not limit the ability of private employers to regulate freedom of speech at work. It does not provide any constitutional right for workers to express political views at work. Therefore, there is no constitutionally protected right of free speech at work. Federal law does not protect workers from political discrimination. However, some states do protect employees from different types of political discrimination.

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers cannot discriminate against employees because of their race, color, national origin, religion, and sex. A political discussion could be tied into one of these protected classes. For example, if a female employee participated in a women’s rights movement and is fired, but other employees can participate in movements, rallies, and protests, she may be able to prove she is being discriminated against because of her sex.

Many employers will create policies limiting the discussion of political views due to issues that could arise. Politics can involve discussions on race, sexual orientation, religion, and a litany of other issues that can polarize the workplace. Heated political discussions could result in discrimination claims, wrongful termination, or even retaliation.

Are Employees Allowed to Campaign in the Workplace?

An employer must maintain a workspace that is free of discrimination and harassment, and they can ban activities unrelated to work. An employer can prohibit employees from promoting political campaigns. This includes:

  • Soliciting coworkers or customers to support political causes.
  • Using the employer’s computer to email and engage in political discussions.
  • Wearing buttons, shirts, or other items of clothing with political messages.

It is important to know that employees who violate an employer’s policy may be lawfully disciplined or discharged.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Advocate for Employees Subjected to Discrimination

As an employee, you should know your rights in the workplace. There are common misconceptions about expressing political views at work, however, political discrimination can link to a protected class. If you believe you were discriminated against at work, speak to our Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. today. Call us at 215-574-0600 or contact us online for an initial consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.