Are Employers Obligated to Provide Time Off for Political Activism?

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Are Employers Obligated to Provide Time Off for Political Activism?

protest sign

If you are passionate about a cause or candidate, you may want to participate in protests or other activities that can affect change. Some workers have questions about how their political activism can affect their employment though. Does your employer have a say in what you do outside of work hours? Do they have to give you time off for your activism? An Atlanta employment discrimination lawyer can help you navigate this.

What Policies Can Employers Make About Political Speech?

An employer can take steps to limit the political speech their employees engage in around the clock. They could enact policies like:

  • Limiting political talk in the workplace
  • Not allowing solicitations for political donations during work hours
  • Barring employees from wearing apparel with slogans or candidates at work

You may be wondering how this fits in with the First Amendment. Shouldn’t you be allowed to say what you want about these subjects without worrying about your employer’s reaction? The First Amendment protects you from the government, not a private employer. So as long as you are not working at a government agency, your boss can probably set limitations on political speech and activism in the workplace itself without being guilty of discrimination.

Are There Exceptions for Political Activism in the Workplace?

An employer can try to keep their workplace free from politics, but there are some things that employees should be able to discuss. Disciplining people for talking about certain topics could actually be a violation of federal law.

Wages and benefits can be a good example here. You cannot bar your employees from talking about wages and benefits because federal law allows them to participate in discussions about their common good. So if there is a law up for debate or a candidate campaigning on policies that could affect their livelihood, workers should be able to talk about it without fear of reprisal.

Can I Be Fired for Political Activism?

Your time should be your own outside of work, so you should not be able to be fired for the political activism that you commit to on your own schedule. Your employer does not have to give you time off for your activism, but they should not be able to punish you for it either.

There are some exceptions to this. Many companies set policies about “lawful” political activity. Let’s say that you are arrested for a crime of some sort while protesting. Your employer could believe that your arrest affects the reputation of the company. That could open you up to disciplinary action, including termination.

Contact an Employment Lawyer Today

If you believe that you have been discriminated against at work for any reason, you may need an attorney. Call Ben Barrett Law and schedule a consultation. We can tell you more about your rights and any potential legal options.

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