Momma Always Said…
Polite people do not talk about pay, religion or politics! Well, the National Labor Relations Act begs to differ with Mom and says that employees MAY talk about pay – it’s a protected, concerted activity (wages, terms and conditions of employment.) So, sorry Mom, you lose this argument!
Religion – enough said, right? Unless you are a religious organization I’m sure we can all agree it is not appropriate cubicle chatter. Mom and Regulatory Agency – tie!
That leaves politics. Who wants to talk about politics anyway, right? B-O-R-I-N-G! Well, not this year! Personally? I would LOVE to eliminate political chatter from my Facebook feed – I want to go back to the days of just seeing silly greyhound pictures and cool cat videos! Friends are unfriending friends – arguments are back and forth – name calling and bashing is taking place (and I don’t mean on the debate floor either!)
So, if you’re like me, and you’re about done with all of this, what can and should you do? (I would encourage you to let Momma win this one too!)
From a regulatory standpoint, this is a personal discussion and, therefore, not protected as a concerted activity. That means that, as an employer, I can say “stop!” This is one of those areas where you certainly don’t want to stop someone from exercising their right to free speech BUT you also have a duty to provide a workplace that is free from harassment, bullying and other inappropriate behavior. These discussions can absolutely get heated because everyone believes THEIR candidate is the BEST candidate – and they are entitled to that opinion. This is, unfortunately, such a hot topic today that people are forgetting that others are entitled to a different opinion. As an employer, take this time as an opportunity to remind employees how important it is to RESPECT the opinions of their coworkers – that doesn’t mean they have to agree with them but they should clearly understand where the boundaries lie.
Some key steps you can take:
- Encourage people to get out and vote – that’s the absolutely BEST way for them to show their support for one or the other candidate
- Reiterate your social media policy and a reminder about “safe” topics (if/when posting under the guise of the Company)
- IF you hear inappropriate and/or heated conversations taking place among employees, use that as an opportunity to discuss respect for their coworkers and remind them about more appropriate ways to express their opinions
- Make sure employees have a safe way to let YOU know if any of their coworkers are pushing boundaries – don’t let a heated political discussion at work turn into a Harassment Complaint because you should have known there was a problem!
Not sure if your Harassment Policy is up to snuff? Contact us for a free policy review and 30 minute consultation!
(PS – watch for the next blog: “NSFW Phraseology for $1000 Please!”)