Ask a California employment lawyer:
My boss keeps talking about politics and I hate it. Do I have rights?
We all saw it on Facebook. There was a letter from the unnamed executive of an unnamed company stating, “I strolled through our parking lot and found eight Obama bumper stickers on our employees' cars. I’ve decided these folks will be the first to be laid off. These folks wanted change; I gave it to them.” While this story has been largely written off as an urban legend, it represents a larger problem. No matter where on the political spectrum you land, you don’t want your boss to have the right to fire you because of a difference of opinion.
This urban legend is an example of an employer acting illegally. You would have rights against this unfair and unjust employer. Your employer can’t discriminate or harass you because of your political beliefs.
My boss is bullying me into voting for the candidate he likes. Is that harassment?
There’s an old adage that says, “Never discuss religion or politics in polite company.” These are words to live by, at dinner parties and especially in the workplace.
Your employer already holds so much power over your livelihood. It would be grossly unfair if your boss also tried to influence your vote. For this reason, your employer is strictly prohibited from any acts of discrimination, retaliation, or harassment based your political beliefs and/or activities.
Employers are strictly prohibited from discrimination, retaliation, or harassment based your political beliefs and/or activities.
That means that your boss can’t stop you from participating in political groups or becoming a leader in these groups. In fact, one example of how important an employee’s rights to their political beliefs is a case called Ali v. L.A. Focus Publication. In that case, the California Court of Appeals decided that an employee who was fired after publicly stating his support for a mayoral candidate had a cause of action for wrongful termination.
You have a fundamental right to your political opinions and your boss can’t bully you about them.
Let's say you believe firmly that beavers should be allowed to wear neckties. If you're passionate enough, you may even want to start a political organization to campaign for beaver necktie rights. But what if your boss was bitten by a beaver and doesn’t like neckties?
How you spend your free time and money is your business, not your boss’s.
In a worst case scenario, he doesn’t want the wages he paid you to go to beavers and neckties...so he fires you. That would be wrong and illegal! Your wages are your own. How you spend your free time and money is your business, not your boss’s.
But what if you decided to run for office because of your passion for the rights of the beavers to wear neckties. Can your boss fire you for running for office? No! Your boss can’t fire you or threaten to fire you if you don’t follow a particular course or line of political action. That would be wrongful termination and illegal.
Don’t let your boss bully you into submitting to his own political beliefs. If you have been wrongfully terminated or harassed due to your political beliefs, call us! We can help!
My boss talk about politics all the time. It makes the workplace so tense. Is that illegal?
Election time can be really frustrating in some offices. People get all fired up about their various causes, but they forget that some people really just want to do their job and not have their blood pressure boil at work. But it is illegal?
On its face, no. The law doesn’t prohibit your boss from simply talking about politics. The law prohibits threatening you if you do not do as he instructs. However, you still have rights!
Constant questioning is illegal if it's being done in order to force you to vote a particular way.
If you haven’t been fired, it would be wise to keep a journal of any wrongful actions that your employer is taking against you. If you feel comfortable, you can always complain to human resources or another boss about your unfair treatment. Keep a record of those complaints (even verbal ones) with personal notes to yourself right after the complaint is made and in the weeks to follow. An anonymous complaint or a complaint to a hotline may bring the company’s attention to your situation.
If you do make a complaint, make sure to let the company know that the political discussions are causing you great emotional distress. If you can’t sleep or eat, tell them! Your employer has a duty to provide you with a safe workplace. If you feel like the political talk is pressure to vote a certain way, tell them! This complaint alone should protect you from retaliation should your boss not like the fact that you complained that he was pressuring you with his political beliefs.
My boss and coworkers keep asking me who I voted for. Is that harassment?
This can be annoying, and frankly repetitive. But on its face, it is legal to simply make conversation. That said, it wouldn't be legal if you suspect the constant questioning is being done in order to force you to vote one way or the other or punish you for not voting for your boss’s candidate. If that is the case, you have rights! If you have been wrongfully terminated or harassed due to your political beliefs, call us. We can help!
People keep asking me to contribute to political campaigns. Do I have workplace rights?
Your boss and your coworkers can ask for your contribution, but if your employer threatens your job, harasses you, or wrongfully terminates you as a result of your refusal to contribute to his political campaign, that’s illegal! Your employer shouldn’t be using your job security to solicit money from you in any way. That clearly breaches all acceptable boundaries.
Politics can cause people to be emotional, but your do have the right to a harassment-free workplace. Your boss shouldn’t treat you unfairly!
We can help you fight for justice.
When your employer wrongfully discriminates against you or harasses you, and you lose your job, you can feel hopeless. Employers should not get away with it! By standing up for your rights, you are standing up for yourself. You are also standing up for everyone who has ever suffered the injustice of an employer keeping earned wages.
Please make an appointment for a free consultation in our Newport Beach office. You can contact us by email or phone. We want to help.