Political discrimination in the workplace is a contentious issue that raises serious questions about an individual’s rights at work. With increasing polarization and activism surrounding politics, it is not uncommon for employees to find themselves in situations where their political beliefs clash with those of their employers or colleagues. However, is political discrimination at work legal?
Political affiliation is not explicitly protected under federal law, and employees have limited rights to express their political beliefs at work. In fact, employers have the right to limit an employee’s political activity as long as it is unrelated to labor or working conditions.
For example, an employee who spends their work hours discussing political topics on social media could potentially be subject to discipline, as it can detract from their productivity and disrupt the workplace. A company may also choose to implement policies that prohibit employee discussions about religion or politics during work hours as long as the policies are enforced consistently.
When Discrimination Becomes Illegal?
While it is legal for employers to limit political expression, it is important to note that discrimination based on political affiliation alone could still be viewed negatively by customers and the public at large. Companies may also find themselves facing backlash or negative publicity if they are perceived as engaging in discriminatory practices. Therefore, it is in an employer’s best interest to promote an inclusive and respectful workplace environment, free from any discriminatory behavior.
Political discrimination at work becomes illegal when the discrimination is based on protected factors, such as race, sex, national origin, religion, or age. The following are some examples of situations where political discrimination at work can become illegal:
- Workplace harassment: Employers are obligated to provide a work environment free from harassment or discrimination. If an employee’s political beliefs create a hostile work environment, they may be entitled to legal recourse. For example, if a coworker makes derogatory comments about an individual’s political beliefs and the employer does not take action to address the issue, the employee may be able to bring a lawsuit against the employer for allowing a hostile work environment to exist.
- Retaliation: Employers are prohibited from retaliating against an employee for exercising their free speech rights. For example, if an employee complains to their employer about discriminatory practices related to their political affiliations and the employer responds by taking negative action against them, such as demoting them or, the employer could be held liable for retaliation.
- Unions and political activity: The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects employees’ rights to engage in concerted activity for the purpose of mutual aid and protection. This includes political activity related to unionizing or advocating for better working conditions. Employers who discriminate against employees who engage in union activity or political activity related to union activity may be violating federal labor law.
South Jersey Workplace Discrimination Lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC Protect Employees From Harassment
If you have faced workplace discrimination, you have rights worth protecting. To explore your legal options, speak with our South Jersey workplace discrimination lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC today. Call us at 856-235-7075 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. With offices in Mount Laurel and Atlantic City, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients in South Jersey, including Cherry Hill, Burlington County, and Camden County.