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Elections, Political Protests, and the Workplace

As campaign season heats up and political protests continue on top of an already stressed workforce, most employers seek to maintain a harmonious work environment. While perhaps tempting to regulate employee behavior to keep politics out of the workplace, employers should tread carefully.

Under California’s discrimination laws, political affiliation is not a protected classification.  On the other hand, Labor Code section 1101 states that an employer shall not make rules, regulations, or policies that prohibit employees from engaging or participating in politics, including becoming candidates for public office. Similarly, Labor Code section 1102 prohibits employers from coercing or influencing employees through adverse employment action to adopt or follow any particular course or line of political action or political activity.  As such, employers should be thoughtful in crafting policies about political expression in the workplace.

Employers may also want to regulate employees’ activities outside the work environment to avoid embroiling the business in controversy but must be cognizant of their employees’ rights to engage in lawful activities outside work, such as attending demonstrations or posting opinions on social media.

These freedoms for employees do not preclude employers from enforcing policies against harassment between employees whether it occurs in the workplace or on social media. Employers also may enforce policies prohibiting employees from attributing their own opinions or preferences to their employer, whether in social media or in public, as well as ensuring protection for the company and its intellectual property.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2022National Law Review, Volume X, Number 216
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About this Author

Mitchell F. Boomer, Jackson Lewis, employment discrimination attorney, whistleblower retaliation lawyer
Principal

Mitchell F. Boomer is a Principal in the San Francisco, California, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Since joining the firm in 1992, he has represented employers in all areas of employment litigation, including wrongful termination, employment discrimination, retaliation, whistleblower, trade secret and unfair competition cases in federal and state courts in California, Washington and Nevada.

Mr. Boomer regularly advises clients on employee discipline, layoffs, reductions in force, human resource policies, leave management and...

(415) 394-9400
Guillermo A. Escobedo Litigation Attorney Jackson Lewis San Diego, CA
Principal and Office Litigation Manager

Guillermo A. Escobedo is a Principal and Office Litigation Manager of the San Diego, California, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. His practice focuses on training, counseling, and defending companies in workplace-related legal matters. 

Mr. Escobedo regularly guides employers on best steps for avoiding employment-law claims. His advice-and-counsel practices include training on harassment prevention, anti-bullying, and effective management tools; reviewing and revising employee handbooks and other company policies; and conducting workplace investigations.

...
619-573-4896
Arcelia Magaña Employment Attorney
Associate

Arcelia N. Magaña is an Associate in the San Diego, California, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Her practice focuses on representing and counseling employers in workplace law matters. She advises clients on ongoing labor and employment policy developments and prepares clients for compliance efforts. 

Ms. Magaña’s legal career has focused almost exclusively in labor and employment law. She has extensive experience in representing and advising clients in various labor and employment issues, including those within wage and hour, DFEH, and PAGA. 

Ms...

619-573-4900
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