Maybe. Everyone has an opinion on politics, and given the current political environment, discussions of politics are getting more heated than usual. The First Amendment gives you the right to free speech, but that right doesn't necessarily extend to everything you say in the workplace.
While some states have laws prohibiting employers from taking an adverse action against an employee based on the employee's political affiliation, Georgia isn't one of those states. So, private employers in this state have a lot of leeway in controlling or punishing political speech on the clock.
However, given the nature of some key political issues this year (immigration, separation of church & state, anti-terrorism measure, etc.), some political discussions can skirt the line of anti-discrimination laws.
Here are some other things to remember in our current political landscape:
- Generally speaking, the First Amendment only protects your right to free speech without interference by the government, but not anybody else.
- Your employer (if you work for a private company) can likely prohibit or restrict political conversation in the workplace while you're on the clock.
- Your employer can't control what you say off the clock (or on social media), but remember that what you post online is public and may cause repercussions at work.
- You have the right to engage in "concerted activity" to better the terms and conditions of your employment (thanks to Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act), and this right exists whether you're part of a unionized workplace or not. You must be either acting together with a coworker or on behalf of your coworkers to be covered by this provision.
There are a few other instances where your speech may be protected at work. If you're objecting to illegal activity in the workplace, you may be a protected whistleblower. And if you're speaking out against illegal discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, pregnancy, or some other protected class, you are protected against retaliation by federal law.
Contact us to discuss your rights in the workplace.