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 mindset that does not welcome contrary political beliefs.
There is a growing concern about other companies taking similar stances to distance themselves from employees who have unpopular political views. For California based employers, such actions are not a good idea.
California Protections Against Workplace Political Discrimination
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 coercing or influencing the political affiliations of their employees.
Furthermore, there are California anti-discrimination laws protecting against retaliation by employers, including firing their employees for engaging in political activities. Labor Code section 96(k) expressly prohibits employers from taking adverse action against employees because of their lawful off-duty conduct. This includes political activity.
Recovering Damages in a Political Discrimination Case
Employees fired for their political beliefs 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.
Exceptions for Unlawful Political Activity and Hostile Conduct
If an employer has strong evidence that their employee’s political activity is unlawful, the employee is not protected under California law. Firing a disruptive employee would not generally be considered wrongful termination.
Similarly, if an employee’s political conduct in the workplace is hostile, unprofessional, or disruptive, they can be dealt with through 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.