Political Expression in the Workplace

Lexology (08/11/20) Burnett, Caroline; Grines, Lara; Sturgeon, Jeffrey

Some 47% of employees say the debate surrounding the 2020 elections is affecting their ability to get work done, according to a survey by Gartner. Moreover, 36% of respondents said they avoid talking to or working with a co-worker because of their political views.

Employers should take steps to prevent political polarization from affecting their workplace, such as establishing office policies and holding training sessions on showing respect to co-workers; and implementing dress code policies that prohibit employees from displaying political buttons, logos, and other political speech in a uniform and nondiscriminatory manner. They also should adopt and enforce nondiscriminatory rules prohibiting non-work-related political activities in the workplace while being mindful of political activities that may be protected by the National Labor Relations Act or applicable state laws. Among other things, employers should reiterate the company’s zero tolerance policy for discrimination, harassment, or retaliation in the workplace.