Political discussions at work. Not cool. And yes, you CAN put a stop to them – the First Amendment doesn’t apply to employers, only governments.
I can point to at least two specific situations where excellent employees LEFT companies because they were so offended by constant political discussion in the office which conflicted with their own beliefs. That’s a dumb reason to lose a great worker.
So what’s an employer to do?
The election season seems to be sparking arguments among coworkers across the political spectrum.
Here’s what you need to know as a manager: You do not have to allow political opinions in the workplace. Period.
One of our clients said “Well, but what about the First Amendment?”
Well, the Constitution’s First Amendment says the government can’t restrict speech. That doesn’t apply to employers.
Here’s what you can do.
As an employer, you are free to restrict ANY talk that isn’t work-related. And you certainly can forbid employees from sending political emails and posting political posters, campaign literature, lapel pins, bumperstickers and the like in their work area and around your workplace.
Moreover, if you already have an anti-solicitation policy, those policies typically already prohibit staff from distributing any non-work-related stuff in your offices.
If this type of discussion is routinely going on in your facility, draft a policy, run it by your legal counsel, and get it communicated.