From the Presidential debates to lawn signs and TV ads to the Voters’ Pamphlet in your mailbox, there’s no denying that election season is in full swing. During a presidential election season, political discussion and debate are prominent, often at family functions, social gatherings and even at work. According to CareerBuilder’s last survey on politics at work, 36 percent of workers discuss politics at work, while 46 percent stated that they plan to discuss this year’s presidential election with their co-workers. Of those who discussed politics at work, more than one in five – approximately 23 percent – said it led to a heated work exchange or fight with a work colleague.
Although with limited exception political activity or affiliation is not a protected status, and Oregon employers no longer have to worry about giving employees time off to vote due to mail-in ballots, the impending election still has significant potential to invoke myriad workplace issues ranging from discrimination and harassment to free speech and bullying. We thought it might be helpful to read this article written by some members of the law firm Holland & Knight entitled “Politics in the Workplace: What Must Employers Allow”. While you and your co-workers may still not agree on the best man or woman for the job, hopefully this will at least keep you out of trouble when discussing your views in your workplace. And regardless of your political affiliation or views, please take advantage of our precious right to get out there and vote!
Everyone has experienced both “workplace politics,” in which Type A employees claw their way to the top at the expense of co-workers, and “politics in the workplace,” in which employees discuss candidates for office and political issues of interest.