The policy must prohibit political expression of all political views. If a policy is directed at only one type of political view or leaning, then the employer runs the risk of facing liability under California Labor Code Sections 1101 and 1102.California Labor Code Section 1101 essentially prohibits employers from preventing employees from engaging in political activity as well as from controlling the political activities of employees.
Outten & Golden is profoundly committed to supporting workers participating in Black Lives Matters protests. If you work in California, you should know that your wrongful termination, retaliation, or other adverse employment actions for political opinions you express or activities you engage in outside of work.In California, the law protects workers' rights to political expression outside of work. California Labor Code Section 1101 states that "No employer shall make, adopt, or enforce any rule, regulation, or policy:Forbidding or preventing employees from engaging or participating in politics.Controlling or directing, or tending to control or direct, the political activities or affiliations of employees.
Snyder claims she did not do anything illegal by joining those marching to the Capitol and that she was wrongfully terminated for political activity.Seeking economic and other damages of at least $10 million, the complaint contains three causes of action:Violation of Tom Bane Act (California Civil Code § 52.1, which prohibits threats to interfere with someone’s constitutional rights);Wrongful Termination of Employment in Violation of Public Policy; andBreach of Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing.More particularly, Snyder alleges that she was terminated for her political affiliation and that her former employer’s action violated California Labor Code Section 1101 (forbidding an employer from controlling or directing political activities or affiliations) and Section 1102 (forbidding an employer from coercing or influencing its employees through threat of discharge or loss of employment for failure to comply with a particular line of political action or political activity).[View source.]
The following policies should be reviewed and updated (as necessary) and implemented to strike that balance:Codes of Conduct and / or Harassment / Discrimination Policies: Generally, neither Texas nor federal laws protect individuals from discrimination based on their political affiliations or political opinions, but some state laws have related protections. See, e.g., Cal. Lab. Code § 1101 (prohibiting employers from discriminating against employees based on employees’ political activities or affiliations); Wis. State. § 111.365(1) (stating that “employment discrimination” includes discrimination against an employee for “declining to attend a meeting or to participate in any communication about religious matters or political matters”). Of course, current political issues involve a number of protected classes, such as race, national origin, gender, and sexual orientation. So the potential for there to be workplace discrimination, harassment, and bullying based on protected classes under the guise of political affiliations or opinions is very real.
It is worth noting that there could be a discrimination claim if the employer discriminates between protesting workers based on a protected category or characteristic—for example if it tolerates protest activity by white employees but penalizes black employees for similar activity.State and local protectionsCertain states and municipalities, however, have enacted additional employment protections that explicitly cover political protests or may be construed to do so. Seehttps://legalaidatwork.org/factsheet/your-rights-as-protester-political-protests-by-employees/;https://www.huffpost.com/entry/can-you-lose-job-protests_l_5ed90ce4c5b697d4c4442597;https://www.workplacefairness.org/retaliation-political-activity-state-lawsStatutes protecting political activity and/or private off-duty conduct For example, California Labor Code § 1101 prohibits employers from forbidding or preventing employees from engaging or participating in politics and from trying control or direct their political activities or affiliations. Section 1102 directly states: “No employer shall coerce or influence or attempt to coerce or influence his employees through or by means of threat of discharge or loss of employment to adopt or follow or refrain from adopting or following any particular course or line of political action or political activity.”
California’s laws addressing political discourse to this end are vague. California Labor Code § 1101 prohibits employers from implementing “any rule, regulation, or policy” (1) “forbidding or preventing employees from engaging or participating in politics or from becoming candidates for public office” or (2) “controlling or directing, or tending to control or direct the political activities or affiliations of employees.” California Labor Code § 1102 provides “[n]o employer shall coerce or influence or attempt to coerce or influence his employees through or by means of threat of discharge or loss of employment to adopt or follow or refrain from adopting or following any particular course or line of political action or political activity.”
The following list is by no means exhaustive, but is instead intended to provide a sample of some of the ways states and localities have attempted to address this issue.Political Affiliation Discrimination California law broadly prohibits any employer from enforcing any rule or policy forbidding or preventing employees from engaging in politics, or controlling the political activities or affiliations of employees. See California Labor Code Sections 1101-02. Washington D.C. similarly prohibits discrimination based on political affiliation.
Employers are also barred from firing or threatening to fire an employee in order to coerce him or her into any particular course of political activity. Cal. Lab. Code §§ 1101, 1102. Under California case law, the term “political activities” includes all activities that may indicate support for a particular candidate or political cause.
(E.g., Gov. Code, § 3206.) In addition, California Labor Code sections 1101 and 1102 contain restrictions on employer efforts to control, direct or coerce employees with regard to political activities.Concerted Activity and Labor RelationsThe public employer also has to be satisfied that the speech can be the basis for discipline consistent with state labor relations laws.
California has numerous laws prohibiting discrimination based on an employee’s political beliefs, as does the United States. Below is a list of examples, non-exhaustive, of laws prohibiting political affiliation discrimination: California Labor Code § 1101 prohibits employers from making, adopting or enforcing any rule, regulation or policy (a) forbidding or preventing employees from engaging or participating in politics or from becoming candidates for public office and (b) controlling or directing, or tending to control or direct the political activities or affiliations of employees. California Labor Code § 1102 prohibits employers from coercing or influencing, or attempting to coerce or influence, his or her employees from political action or activity by threats of discharge or loss of employment.