Legality of firing a worker for running for office
Election season is coming and people are running for local, state and even national office. But what happens if it’s one of your employees that’s running?
Even though many companies encourage their employees to get politically active in their after-hours, in some cases an employee’s political campaign can present a conflict of interest, if not an unwelcome distraction.
If an employee’s political activity starts interfering with his professional one, is it legal to fire a worker that is running for office?
There is no protection for political belief
While there is legislation that protects a worker from being fired for his race, religion, nationality or age, this protection is not extended when it comes to political views and beliefs. Firing an employee for his political activity is not considered wrongful discrimination as there is no coverage for political beliefs in the employment discrimination laws.
On the same note, firing a worker for his political ambition is not considered grounds for a wrongful termination claim.
Off-the-clock activities can be grounds for termination
Even if the employee is conducting his political activities in his own spare time, an employer still has the power to fire him if he so chooses to do. A recent example is Viviana Janer, a senior manager with Marriott Vacations, who was terminated from her job after she refused to resign from her campaign for a seat on the Osceola County Commission.
A 2010 National Conference of State Legislatures report writes that there are only four states that have laws for off-duty conduct discrimination: California, Colorado, New York and North Dakota. There may be states that protect workers rights to use lawful products and tobacco products but when it comes to running for office: there are no guarantees.
Think it over and consult a lawyer before running for office. Are your political ambitions worth more than your job?