The 2016 presidential race is underway, and opinions and emotions can be strong on both sides. You may want to think about addressing political discussions in the workplace. Do you know what to do if conversations get out of hand?
At private companies, employees do not have unrestricted rights to “free speech” under the First Amendment; an employer can control political speech in the workplace. Therefore, if political speech becomes disruptive to the workplace and interferes with productivity, the employer can discipline the employees involved. However, it is extremely important that you enforce standards consistently and remain neutral.
Employers must remember that certain speech and affiliation is considered protected. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has stated that non-disruptive political advocacy related to employment issues during non-work time and in non-work areas is protected. Employers may, however, enforce neutrally applied restrictions on political advocacy during work time or in work areas.
The above are just a few things employers should be aware of when thinking about addressing political speech in the workplace. You should also check for state laws that govern political activity.