During a presidential election year, politics dominate conversations at home, social gatherings and work. This year's presidential election is considered unprecedented in its rhetoric among politicians and their supporters. Political discussions with family members, friends and co-workers have never been more risky.
Casual conversations with your fellow employees can evolve into politically charged discourse. However, certain boundaries exist for the most ardent political junkies. While your employer is permitted to set certain limits, they must exercise caution if the topic involves labor issues.
For example, employees can encourage fellow staff members to support a candidate who supports wage increases or other employment-related issues. However, when the discussion evolves into non-labor topics, you will want to tread carefully.
A co-worker may insist on transitioning the conversation to foreign policy, immigration, taxes and other subjects. Whether you want to stop a possible debate or just get back to work, explain that you may differ in opinions and prefer to keep those views out of the work relationship.
Requesting management to intervene is a quick way to end the distraction. Yet, in many cases, their power and influence can be used to encourage supporting, voting and donating to a particular candidate or political action committee. In workplaces in California and throughout the country, refusals have led to reprisals. Employees have faced discrimination, discipline and termination.
California law prohibiting employers from discrimination based on political views or affiliations protects you and your fellow employees. Exceptions exist and involve activities that may conflict with your employer's business interests and priorities.
If you are a victim of discrimination because of differing political views, speak to an experienced employment law attorney.