Elections are often contentious, and employees may not always share the same view as their employers. Many employers say to leave politics out of the workplace, but others try to impose their own views. Here's how to know when your employer has crossed the line.
Can an Employer Promote a Candidate?
Even if many employees may find it unseemly, employers do have the right to promote a political candidate. For example, they may say that a certain candidate's proposed regulation would put them out of business and everyone will lose their job. This is the employer's opinion, and it falls under the First Amendment, so it's allowed.
There may be certain situations where this type of activity violates other laws. For example, a state may bar employers from taking action against unions, so the employer may not be able to oppose a candidate for their union-friendly policies. Even though this is still partially within an employer's free speech rights, it also violates the employees' more direct rights to have a union.
Can an Employer Tell Employees Who to Vote For?
Employers can suggest who employees should vote for as discussed above, but actually forcing them to vote for a candidate would likely violate election laws. It is illegal to give any type of financial incentive to vote for a specific candidate or to make any type of threat to prevent someone from voting for a specific candidate. In some places, it's even illegal to give someone an incentive to vote without saying who to vote for, since it's also a citizen's right to choose to not vote.
An employer who does this would be liable under election laws. If they fired an employee in retaliation, an employment lawyer would also likely be able to bring an unfair termination case.
Can You Get Fired For Who You Vote For?
Even though employers can't take action based on your specific vote in a specific action, there are fewer protections if they fire and hire based on belonging to a certain political party or posting political views online. These types of actions generally fall under First Amendment freedom of association. However, some areas have passed laws banning discrimination based on political affiliation, so you should work with a lawyer to check the laws in your area if this has happened to you.
To learn more about whether the actions your employer took with regard to your voting rights are legal and what remedies you may have, contact a local employment lawyer today.
If you are a business owner, there are bound to be times when you ask yourself, "is this legal?" You may have this question before you sign a certain contract, fire an employee, or set a new policy for your customers. The best person to answer this question is, of course, a business attorney. They have specific training and experience to guide business owners in making smart legal decisions. The posts on this blog are all related to business attorneys and the work that they do. We think you'll benefit from reading them, whether you own a business yourself or are thinking of getting into business law.