May an employer discipline an employee for engaging in political activities?

Author: Marta Moakley, XpertHR Legal Editor

It depends. An employer may discipline an employee for engaging in political activities under certain circumstances.

Most workplace rights regarding political expression (including the First Amendment) cover public, and not private, employees. However, a number of states protect an employee's off-duty activities, such as canvassing for a candidate. In addition, in certain states an employee may be entitled to various workplace protections, such as time off to vote or freedom from intimidation with respect to personal voting choices.

A private employer may implement and enforce policies and practices that limit or prohibit political expression during working time. For example, if an employee violates a political activity policy or a solicitation and distribution policy, then that employee may be subject to discipline.