Most people are aware that employment law protects them from being harassed
at work based on gender, religion, race, and other protected statuses,
but they are often less knowledgeable about what the law says about political
speech at work. If you think that your rights are being violated at work
due to political speech, contact an attorney for
employment law advice in San Jose, CA. This area of law can be complex, so it is important to review your situation
with an experienced employment lawyer. Here is what you need to know.
Can employers restrict political speech?
California Labor Code section 1101 prohibits employers from making, adopting,
or enforcing any rule, regulation, or policy that forbids or controls,
or tends to control, their employees’ political activities. Labor
Code section 1102 makes it illegal for an employer to threaten employees
with discharge as a means of coercing or influencing employees’
“Political activities” are broadly defined under the law, and
include displaying an campaign sticker, wearing armbands, advocating for
union membership, or criticizing public officials.
Employers can generally put restraints on discussions and activities that
happen during work hours while employees are on the clock. However, employers
must be careful when they are restricting this kind of discussions, because
federal laws protect employees’ rights to discuss labor issues.
This means policies on these issues must be carefully crafted to avoid
Can you ask your employer to force a coworker to stop talking about politics?
Even if your workspace doesn’t have a rule restricting political
speech at work, your employer may still be willing to intervene if a coworker’s
political speech if it is bothersome to you. Although there may be no
legal requirement for your coworker to restrict his or her political speech,
your employer is unlikely to want politically contentious issues to interfere
with working relationships, so he or she may step in when an employee’s
political discourse if offending coworkers.
Can employers discriminate against workers based on political opinions?
The protections for political speech and affiliation in the workplace
vary from state to state. In California, employers cannot discriminate
against workers based on political speech and affiliation, but in other
states, they can. If you feel like you have been discriminated against
for your political beliefs, contact an employment law attorney to find
out what your rights are and what next steps to take.