Elections Issues: Disciplining Employees for Their Political Activities

Author: Marta Moakley, XpertHR Legal Editor

Disciplining employees for workplace political activities, such as engaging in political discussions or campaigning for a particular candidate, may appear to make good business sense. For example, workplace political discussions during a contentious campaign season may lead to co-worker bullying and harassment. To that end, employers may enforce existing work rules that address bullying, soliciting, computer use and communications.

However, employers should guard against unintended violations of an employee's constitutional or legal rights this election season. Some states specifically allow employees to engage in off-duty political activities, and to receive up to two hours of voting leave on Election Day.

While most private employees do not have constitutional rights to free speech for comments made in the workplace, public employees may enjoy additional protections under US and state constitutions. Public employers should note that, in some states, their employees may be entitled to additional leaves related to political activities.

Avoid infringing on employee rights by consulting the following documents.

Employment Law Manual

50-State Charts

Policies and Documents


How To

Supervisor Briefings