If you are not working, your time should be your own. If you have a cause or political candidate you want to advocate for, you should be allowed to do that. However, your employer has no obligation to give you any time off for political activism, no matter how deeply held your views are. In fact, you could even be penalized for your political activities outside of work, and it might not be considered any violation of your rights. If your political activities and work life have begun to mix in any way, it may be time to talk to a Chesterfield County employment discrimination attorney.
Can Employers Limit Political Speech?
You may think that you can talk about politics all that you want at work. You have the right to free speech thanks to the First Amendment after all. Unfortunately, that amendment is there to protect you from the government, not a private employer. So if you are not employed by a government agency, your employer may make policies that can be seen as curtailing political speech or activity at work. They might have policies about social media, soliciting campaign donations during work hours, or wearing clothing with political messages at the workplace. These would probably not be seen as any kind of infringement on your rights.
However, there are some big exceptions to be aware of. Your employer could get in trouble if they try to limit your speech about certain topics.
What if My Political Activism Concerns My Workplace?
There are some situations where an employer should not try to curtail political talk at work, even if they were trying to keep the workplace politics-free. One example of this is the topic of wages. Wages can be affected by politics.
If a local politician is running and promising to raise the minimum wage, that could be relevant to any worker who makes minimum wage. If you pay your employees minimum wage and notice that they are speaking to each other about this candidate and a potential rise in wages, you can say that they are talking politics. Still, trying to put the lid on any talk like this could get the employer in trouble because federal law can protect workers who discuss political or social activities that can affect their employment conditions.
Can I Be Reprimanded or Terminated for My Political Activism Outside of Work?
If your political activism is seen as harmful to the company’s reputation, your employer may be able to fire or discipline you. As an example, you go to a protest and end up in a brawl. There are pictures of you in the newspaper and you have been identified as an employee of this company. Your employer could decide that the hit to their reputation is unacceptable and that you are a liability.
Talk to an Employment Lawyer
If you think that your rights have been violated or that you have been discriminated against, you should act and hold your employer accountable. Our experienced attorney from Passero Employment Law can evaluate your case and let you know if you have legal options. Schedule your consultation today.