So, can you ban campaign posters and buttons? No laws specifically regulate this sort of partisan activity for private employers and employees. Private employers can decide yea or nay about this, although we recommend that employers have a written policy regulating it. Consider the following:
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In the late 1960s, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that government employees could engage in free speech without retaliation. Later, this free speech guarantee was pared back to encompass only speech focused on issues of public interest and not those of private employment interest.
These guarantees have been extended by many states to private sector employees. In many states, a private sector employer may not discipline or fire an employee because the employer does not agree with the employee’s off-duty public comments, as long as they are about something of public concern, like an election or public policy.
Generally, an employee’s politics and political activity are off-limits to employers, pursuant to both federal and many state laws. However, if an employee harasses others because of political beliefs or tries to politically proselytize co-workers, the employee may act to discipline the employee.
Furthermore, if the employer is able to link the person’s beliefs or actions to actual or highly probable business problems, the employer may have some grounds for disciplining the employee.
Dealing with politically-crazed employees—one of, what, a dozen critical challenges on your desk? From hiring to firing, HR’s never easy, and in a small department, it’s just that much tougher.
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