- The primary election season is in full swing, meaning employers may need to make their position clear on political talk in the workplace. But employers may also be able to use the election to their advantage and encourage volunteering at the polls as a form of corporate volunteering, the Huffington Post reports.
- Employers have a right to enforce limitations on political speech in the workplace, though they must be careful to ensure their rules are content-neutral and that discussions that offend other employees on the basis of religion, gender, ethnicity, etc., are pointedly not tolerated, Law360 reports.
- Allowing employees to volunteer at the polls, however, could be one way to engage employees, particularly millennials, and have them be more involved in their communities – which reflects well on an employer.
As 2016 is becoming a controversial year for politics, it may be a good time to revisit your company's policies. If an employer has a dress code policy that limits political buttons and t-shirts, be certain that other, non-political buttons and t-shirts are also banned as part of that policy, David Barron, Cozen O'Connor member lawyer, told Law360.
Avoid putting limitations on employees talking politics on their own time, and do not track or otherwise note when an employee supports a certain candidate or whether or not an employee votes. Employers are allowed to take a stand on an issue and present to employees where each candidate stands on such an issue, though this behavior has been scrutinized in the past.
On a more positive note, encouraging involvement at the polls on election day can help employees reach out to their communities and obtain "free skills building," HuffPo reports. An employer that looks interested in the political process in general – by encouraging employees to vote and allowing poll volunteering – is usually on the side of the law.