Fall typically brings distractions to the workplace, from some employees monitoring fantasy football statistics online to others discussing their kids’ back-to-school issues around the water cooler. In a big election year such as 2012, however, there is an intensified discourse on politics and all things related, as the current realities of a 24/7 news cycle and the ease of access to information that social media brings adds to an already hot debate.
But like many other areas in employer-employee relations, it is critical for companies to develop the proper mindset when it comes to understand what employee conduct they can regulate and when they should take a step back. As a general principle, private-sector employees have no constitutional right to free speech or political expression in the workplace. Yet, there are other areas in which they have protection.