Can’t We All Just Get Along? Keeping Politics Out Of The Office Post Election

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10/21/2017

Hi Visitor,

 

Can’t We All Just Get Along? Keeping Politics Out Of The Office Post Election

 By: Rebecca A. Hause-Schultz and Glen A. Williams

While the contentious 2016 election is finally over, folks on both sides of the aisle are far from done talking about the results. Regardless of personal political beliefs, it is important for employers to remember that an employer’s political talk in the workplace can expose the company to liability. Political debate often brings up polarizing topics, for example immigration or religion. Employees may feel unwelcome in the workplace when their political beliefs or their candidates of choice do not align with their employer’s, potentially leading to claims of discrimination or retaliation. Thus, employers (and their management teams) should use caution when discussing politics in the workplace.

There have already been reports of employers on both sides of the political spectrum making comments either applauding or complaining about the outcome. For example, following the election, Grubhub’s CEO sent an email to all his employees that condemned what he perceives as the “anti-immigrant and hateful politics of Donald Trump” and told employees that if they did not agree with his statements, they should reply to his email with their “resignation because you have no place here.” Employees may interpret comments like these as a threat to their job if their political beliefs differ, especially given how hostile this election has been.

In addition to the concerns of discrimination and retaliation claims, the Labor Code states that California employers may not create any rule, regulation, or policy forbidding employees from engaging in politics, nor may employers attempt to control or direct the political activities of employees. In that regard, employers should ensure that company policies regarding harassment, bullying, and hostile work environment, as well as polices requiring employers to provide a safe workplace, are being followed and enforced during this time.

COUNSEL TO MANAGEMENT:

To avoid making employees feel unwelcome in the workplace and exposing companies to liability, employers and management should use caution when addressing political topics. The line between business and politics is sometimes a thin one; however, to ensure that employees of all political backgrounds feel safe, companies and their management should be mindful when discussing their personal thoughts on the election, and be sure that their comments could not be perceived as discriminatory and threatening to employees. If you have any questions regarding your internal policies regarding harassment, bullying, and maintaining a safe working environment, please contact the Saqui Law Group.
 

 

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