You have an employee who is using the breakroom as his bully pulpit, discussing his political views with his coworkers. Some coworkers complain to you that they don’t want to hear it, so you call the employee in to your office and tell him to keep his views and opinions to himself. A no-brainer, right? Not so simple, according to new guidelines from the National Labor Relations Board on employee’s political activities in the workplace.
According to the new guidelines, employee political speech that touches on employment issues may be protected by Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act. In essence, if there is a direct nexus between employment-related concerns and the specific issues that are the subject of the political speech, then the speech is protected. Of course, you can still counsel the employee to confine his activities to appropriate places and times, if it is interfering with work.
So, the employee’s views on why the U.S. should pull out of the U.N.? Why industrial hemp should be legalized? Probably not protected speech. The employee’s views on the minimum wage, or the expansion of medical marijuana laws to require workplace accommodation? Probably both protected under the NLRA.