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Politics in the Workplace - Free Speech or Not?

Q: We are headed into an election – is there anything we should do to set the stage for our employees over the next couple of weeks?

A: It may be time to ensure that your employees understand the expectations you have as an employer.  Remember that for the private sector, employers have the right to dictate what is acceptable speech in the workplace so long as it doesn't curtail employee's rights to talk with one another about wages, benefits, or working conditions.   Explaining to employees what the rules are about political speech is considered wise.  It is also wise to explain that if the conversation becomes heated, the employer will likely take action, which may be disciplinary in nature.  Remind employees that they don't know the full picture of their co-workers so it is possible that there may be deep-seated emotions attached to some of the differences in political opinion. Additionally, make sure that employees can access a few people to share their concerns about political, or any other conversation concerns.