The real action in the 2016 election is still months away, but political discord is already in mid-campaign form. If water-cooler chatter has been more heated than you would like, you may be tempted to put a gag order on political speech.
Our advice: That’s not a smart move. A no-political-talk policy is impossible to enforce. Plus, you’ll stifle morale and could invite a lawsuit.
Still, you do have the legal right to control employees’ activities on the job and keep them focused on work. That includes stopping political activism and solicitations.
Don’t allow employees to claim that the First Amendment lets them say anything they want. While the Constitution says the government can’t stifle employees’ free-speech rights, it doesn’t restrict private-sector employers from setting such limits.
Where you can run into trouble, however, is if your organization retaliates against an employee because of his or her political choices or expression. Why? Because protecting employees’ freedom of political expression remains an important “public policy” concern.
Clearly tell employees that all workplace speech must be respectful and tolerant of others’ views.