*PLEASE NOTE: THIS INFORMATION IS CALIFORNIA SPECIFIC*
We’re in the final days before the November 8th election, and we here at The Craft Beer Attorney want to send out some gentle reminders about employer obligations in regards to voting and political expression in the workplace.
Time Off to Vote Notice
The California Elections Code requires employers to post a notice to employees informing them of state law provisions that allow for up to 2 hours of paid time off for employees who are unable to vote outside of working hours. This notice must be posted at least 10 days before a statewide election, either in the workplace or in a location where the employees can see it as they enter or exit their place of work.
The election notice may already be part of your standard employment law poster, but if it is not, you can find free sample postings in a variety of languages at this website: http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/time-vote-notices/. Postings need to be up no later than Friday, October 28, 2016.
“No Politics” Policies
Political discussions can often turn into heated shouting matches, and also can lead to concerns about workplace bullying, retaliation, or discrimination. Many workplaces have chosen to adopt “no political activity” policies as a result. These are generally permitted, so long as you include appropriate carve-outs for protected rights.
You can ban the following:
1) Solicitations for money or support for political candidates or causes during working time
2) Distribution of materials to solicit money or support for political candidates or causes during working time
3) Any related workplace communications or conduct that disrupt operations or productivity, or which are accompanied by violent, unlawful, or aggressive behavior
You may also want to discourage supervisors and managers from having political discussions with subordinates, and remind all employees that the company insists on equal and fair treatment of all personnel and does not tolerate discrimination, harassment, or bullying in the work place.
As a quick reminder, it is unlawful in California for an employer to coerce, influence, or attempt to coerce or influence his or her employees to adopt or follow a particular course or line of political action or political activity through threat of discharge or loss of employment.