Which Employees Are Protected from Political Activity Retaliation?

Author: Mesriani Law Group
Posted on: October 23, 2020

California has laws that protect employees from retaliation based on political activity.

Labor Code §§ 1101 and 1102 specifically prohibit employers from adopting or enforcing rules, regulations, or policies designed to prevent or forbid employees from engaging in politics or running for public office. Employers cannot direct any employee align with certain political affiliations or force or coerce employees to engage in political activities. Employers cannot threaten to fire an employee for engaging or refusing to engage in certain political activities.

However, as is the case in life and law, there are exceptions. Which employees are protected from political activity retaliation? Are there different rules for public employees compared to private ones?

Protection for Public Sector Employees

Public sector employees are those employed through the local, state, or federal government.

Federal employees must abide by rules of the Hatch Act. The Hatch Act restricts federal employees from participating in certain political activities. Differing rules apply to on-duty and off-duty conduct.

Federal employees are categorized into “further restricted” or “less restricted” employees. Most federal employees fall into the “less restricted” category. There are five general restrictions for the “less restricted” category, they include:

-the restriction of being politically active while on duty,

-wearing an official insignia or uniform, or

-using a federally leased or own vehicle.

However, generally speaking, public employees have the right to engage in political activities outside of work, off government property and off-duty.

Examples of employment retaliation may include a demotion, denial of promotion, withholding of pay, a salary reduction, job or shift reassignment, and termination of employment.

Public sector employers are prohibited from participating in political activities while in uniform. For example, the City of Los Angeles can prohibit its peace officers or firefighters from attending a political rally or political activities while they are in uniform.

Protection for Private Sector Employees

Private sector employees are hired by corporations, individual businesses, or other non-governmental agencies. In the United States, private employees are usually considered “at will,” and that means a private employer can terminate employment for any reason, unless prohibited by law.

For example, a boss cannot reprimand you, write you up, or treat you differently after she/her discovers who you vote for in the upcoming election. They cannot use their power and authority over you to influence how you express your political views, so long as they do not pervade into the workplace environment. Be safe and keep politics separate from work, but make sure your employers do the same. You just work for them, they do not own you.

Also, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964, an employer cannot discriminate against an employee based on sex, national origin, race, religion, or color. If an employer terminates your employment based on any of these protected categories, a wrongful termination attorney can help you understand which rights have been violated.

However, California law states that employers cannot adopt or enforce rules or policies that prevent or forbid employees from participating or engaging in politics.

Consult with a Discrimination Lawyer Today

If your employment rights have been violated, an employment discrimination lawyer can help you seek justice. We are confident that our experienced employment attorneys can obtain the maximum compensation for your case and offer a “no win, no fee” guarantee. Contact Mesriani Law Group today for your free legal consultation.