Recently, there has been more and more news stories about companies firing
their employees because of their political views and activities. These
companies have expressed that leadership is of a specific political mindset
that does not welcome contrary beliefs. Because of the popularity of these
stories, there is a growing concern about other companies taking similar
stances in order to distance themselves from employees who have unpopular
or extreme political views. For California based employers, such actions
are a not a good idea.
California has laws that are intended to protect the rights of employees
who engage in lawful political expression and political activities. Under
Labor Code sections 1101 and 1102, employers are prohibited from trying
to coerce or influence the political activities and affiliations of their
employees. Furthermore, California law prohibits employers from firing
their employees for engaging in political activities. Labor Code section
96(k) expressly prohibits employers from taking adverse action against
an employee because of their lawful off-duty conduct that occurs away
from the employer’s premises. This includes political activity.
If an employer violates these laws, the employee can make a claim for wrongful
termination in violation of public policy. A successful claim for wrongful
termination can result in financial compensation for lost wages, emotional
distress, and punitive damages. However, employers do have other options
when it comes to an employee’s political conduct that they disagree with.
If an employee’s political activity is unlawful, and the employer
has strong evidence of this, then they are not protected under California
law. Similarly, if an employee’s political conduct in the workplace
is hostile, unprofessional, or disruptive of work, they can be dealt with
through applicable disciplinary measures.
Have you been fired because of your political views or for engaging in
political activity? Contact our Hollister employment law attorney
to find out how we can assist you today.