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Oct 24, 2016

Q&A: Think twice before posting political signs at work

Q&A 

Question: Our company feels strongly about a measure on this year’s ballot. Can we distribute literature and post campaign posters on the issue?

Answer: This is an interesting question and the same answer applies regardless of whether the support is regarding a ballot measure or a political candidate. The answer depends on whether the posting of signs and distribution of literature might violate the company’s “no-solicitation” policy.
 
If posting this information violates your own no-solicitation policy, you open your organization up to having no recourse if others violate the policy. Employees could advocate for or distribute literature for other political causes, including posting messages promoting unions. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) allows you as an employer to prohibit employees from distributing literature during working time and in work areas, but only if you enforce your rule uniformly.
 
There are also practical concerns to consider. If you start advocating for or against specific measures, you may invite political conversation in the workplace. Employees or supervisors may have a different opinion on the issue, and employees may argue about who is right. In addition to conversation about the specific measure, employees may feel emboldened or encouraged to discuss political candidates. There is no legal prohibition here, but there is a significant potential for morale and workplace issues. The disagreements in the lunch room could spill over into disagreements during work time. Political issues often cover areas that are protected in the workplace such as religion, race, and gender. And you may have to deal with possible harassment or retaliation claims. If you have questions about political expression at work, contact your Vigilant employment attorney. You may also want to review our Legal Guide, “No-Solicitation Policies”.

 

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