Generally, a private employer’s policies about political speech at work should balance the employer’s interest in maintaining order and productivity with the employee’s right to free speech. Employers should remember:
- Be consistent. Do not implement policies that tend to favor one political party over another. Also, be sure to consistently enforce any policies that might restrict political speech. If you tend to only enforce political speech policies when the speech concerns a particular candidate or a particular political party, you may increase your risk of liability. Next, review your handbook! If your handbook contains a policy about appropriate workplace speech, make sure that the enforcement is consistent with the policy.
- Do not influence employees. In Oregon, employers may not directly or indirectly influence any person’s right to vote, including registering to vote, refraining from registering, or voting in a particular manner. Undue influence can include force, bribes, and threat or termination of employment. Employers should remind supervisors to be cautious when discussing elections or voting with their employees.
- Maintain guidelines. When drafting policies about political speech in the workplace, make sure the policies tolerate all lawful political views. Employers may also consider language that reminds employees to respect one another’s political ideas. These policies should be written and available to all employees, preferably in a handbook. Also, consider sending a reminder about guidelines for political speech at work before Election Day.
- Nonprofits be careful! 501(c)(3) nonprofits can lose their tax-exempt status if they engage in political campaigning. Under this rule, nonprofits are forbidden from directly or indirectly participating in a political campaign in support or opposition of any candidate for public office. However, nonprofits generally can engage in non-partisan activities and some legislative issues. Because the IRS may revoke the tax-exempt status or impose excise taxes on nonprofits in violation of this rule, these organizations should be extremely careful when engaging in any sort of political activity.
Electronic Alerts are written by Barran Liebman attorneys for their clients and friends. Alerts are not intended as legal advice, but as employment law, labor law, and employee benefits announcements. If this has been forwarded to you, and you would like to begin receiving Electronic Alerts directly, please email or call Traci Ray at 503-276-2115. Copyright ©2017 by Barran Liebman LLP.
Las Alertas electrónicas son escritas por abogados de Barran Liebman para sus clientes y amigos. Las Alertas no son proveídas como asesoramiento legal, sino solo como anuncios de leyes de empleo, leyes laborales y beneficios de empleo. Si esto ha sido remetido a usted y quisieras empezar a recibir las Alertas directamente, por favor mándanos un correo electrónico o llama a Traci Ray al 503-276-2115. Derechos de autor ©2017 por Barran Liebman LLP.