Dangers of Talking About Political Beliefs at Work

Vote-for-meA New York Times article warns people about sharing their political leanings in business situations. Alina Tugend lost a sizable account after reacting positively to a news story about President Obama during a meal with a prospective client.

In the article, she poses these questions:

HERE'S a quiz for the coming campaign season. Which one of these actions could get you disciplined or fired?

A) Hanging political cartoons on your office door.

B) Sending emails to your colleagues soliciting support for a controversial cause.

C) Writing a blog at home stating your opinions about a local campaign and posting it on Facebook.

D) All of the above.

The answer is D. Now, that's not an absolute. It depends on whether you are a private or public employee. It also depends on where you live.

Employees in the private sector have few protections. The First Amendment protects speech from government action, not private employers.

On the other hand, you may have more protection if you belong to a union or work in New York, California, Colorado, North Dakota, or the District of Columbia, all of which protect political beliefs-as long as you don't interfere with business.

Image source.

Discussion Starters:

  • What are you comfortable sharing or not sharing with coworkers?
  • Argue for and against protections of political beliefs or actions at work. Try to see the situation from the employer and employee's perspective.
  • Should we have a federal law to protect political speech and beliefs as we do for religion? Why or why not?