Political Arguments in the Workplace
By Strategic Human Resources, Inc.
With election time drawing near, we have some employees who have been very vocal about their political beliefs, including making insulting remarks about those who do not share their views. This is making other employees uncomfortable. What can we do as an employer to control political arguments in the workplace?
Under the Federal Election Campaign Act, employers have the right to regulate and control employee work time and, as a result, may restrict any political activity during work time by prohibiting certain activities and behaviors that interfere with an employee’s (or other employees’) work. This includes wearing campaign buttons or t-shirts, leafleting, and disruptive commentary in the workplace. According to Michelle Reid, Esq. of Dallas-based Employment Practices Solutions, intelligent political dialogue can increase camaraderie and interaction between coworkers, but it can quickly escalate into arguments and lead to formal complaints and a divisive work environment. Reid states all organizations should have a policy that addresses discussions that may not be suitable for the workplace and the importance of maintaining a tolerant environment. Further, since political discussions between two people with opposing views rarely have a happy ending, train managers on how to diffuse an impassioned political discussion.