How to Avoid Workplace Political Spats
Robin Shea of our Winston-Salem office was interviewed by Entrepreneur about political discussions in the workplace. How should employers navigate this election season? An excerpt of the article is below.
Entrepreneur: How can a civic-minded employer express political opinions in the office without risking harassment claims?
Shea: If employers do choose to bring up politics, they should be careful. An employer could legally say: “We think candidate Y is going to be better for our business and we just want to share that view with you.” I think as long as you give a disclaimer making sure [employees] understand that you’re not trying to pressure them to vote one way or the other, people will get the idea. But ultimately, you can’t go wrong by keeping your mouth shut.
Entrepreneur: Can employers be held legally liable for political discourse in the workplace?
Shea: Not strictly speaking. But if the employee’s political talk could be considered harassment or discrimination based on race, sex, religion or national origin, there’s a real legal danger. If such comments are pervasive to the point where it would be negligent of an employer not to step in, then that employer could have some liability.