Article written by guest writer Rin Mitchell
What’s the Latest Development?
When it comes to political discussions in the workplace, a person's constitutional right of free speech doesn't apply. Employers exercise the right to reprimand an employee who brings political talk to the job that may offend colleagues or higher ups. However, in some states employers have the right to get employees involved in political business beneficial to the company. There are two things many people personally choose not to discuss with friends and acquaintances: religion and politics. They are the two most sensitive subjects that have been known to create hostility and damage friendships. With the upcoming election Romney versus Obama—and Republicans versus Democrats talks are trending topics. But not in the workplace, unless the people involved are willing to sacrifice their jobs. The federal statute only protects employees from being fired for race, sex, age, ethnicity and religion, not political opinion.
What’s the Big Idea?
The workplace is not the appropriate place to express one's political beliefs because it could lead to a hostile work environment. “The First Amendment applies only to employees of the government in certain situations, and all citizens when they’re confronted by the government.” So, exercising one's freedom of speech does not apply in work spaces. "However, there are valid reasons an employer would restrict political speech, beyond assuring a productive work site or suppressing opinions contrary to management," such as "a fear of lawsuits alleging that an employer permitted a hostile work environment, and the risk of having to pay damages."