How Talking Politics At Work Can Get You Fired

talk politics at work

The conventions are over, but the political banter won't end for months. Presidential elections stir up a lot of emotions, whether you side with the "red," the "blue" or if you consider yourself somewhere in the middle. If you're fired up, it's natural that you may want to talk politics at work. However, you should beware, because sharing your opinions at work may get you fired. Susan Adams noted in Forbes that the Society for Human Resources reported 25 percent of employers maintained written policies on political activities; some of these restrict conversations about politics at work. Only a handful of states have laws that prohibit private employers from discriminating against workers because of their political activity.

Do you know your employer's written or unwritten policies? If not, and you have a tendency to think everyone is entitled to your opinion, now is probably a good time to take a close look at your employee handbook.

Even if your organization does not have a specific policy about discussing politics, is it a good idea to wear your political buttons, t-shirts and other paraphernalia to the office? Should you try to collect money for your favorite candidate or instigate a conversation about hot-button issues in the lunchroom? The safest answer to these questions is "No."


Why not?

1. You are not necessarily protected by the right to freedom of speech while at work, especially since your opinions may interfere with other people's rights to a non-hostile environment.
Even if you do not consider your opinions hostile, someone else in your office may. If that person files a grievance or complaint, the law would most likely be on the aggrieved party's side, and you may be out of luck -- or out of a job. Employers aren't interested in keeping people who cause trouble, so it would probably not be a difficult choice to fire you.


2. Higher-ups may discriminate against you based on your political biases.
Even if you work in an organization where everyone seems to agree, there is bound to be someone who is either annoyed (at best) or offended (at worst) by your opinions. You never know how this might come into play in the workplace. When you're passed over for a promotion or let go in the next layoff, it could be because someone in authority couldn't stand to hear any more of your political banter.


3. You may offend your colleagues -- the ones you rely on to have your back when you need help or coverage.
Just because people may not vocally disagree with you doesn't mean they aren't taking mental notes to be busy the next time you ask to switch days off with them or pick up the slack on a big project. One of your goals at work should be to grow your circle of allies; sharing your political beliefs is probably not the best way to accomplish that.


4. Getting too fired up may call your judgment into question.
Emotional intelligence, which includes how you manage yourself, your communication style and how you behave when agitated, is an important qualitative way you are assessed at work. If a heated political discussion almost drives you to blows, or you get so aggravated that you turn purple, people are likely to question your ability to handle important issues at work. If your job description involves negotiation or working with a diverse group of people, expect your passionate, one-sided political views to hurt your work reputation.

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122 Comments

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Henry

But the Bosses can FORCE you to go to Political Rallies or other support for THEIR candidates under threat of termination. The Companies have FREE SPEECH and, according to the Teapublicans on the FEC, it trumps yours.

September 13 2012 at 7:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Henry's comment
Ryan Vigus

Actually your company doesn't have freedom of speech anymore than you do. The issue here is that a person is not protected by the 1st amendment in a private environment. All the 1st amendment does is prevent Congress from making any laws against freedom of speech. Your private sector boss can do anything he wants about it (more or less).

September 17 2012 at 2:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tackleho

Work hard, keep your mouth shut and make yourself invaluable to the company. That's a recipe for success right there.

September 13 2012 at 11:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to tackleho's comment
Henry

Wrong! No One is invaluable. I did GREAT things for a Company, cleaned up my predecessors messes, made the company money and guess what, I got shown the door. Companies have taken well run, moneymaking factories, and moved them overseas because they want MORE $$$$$$$$$.

September 13 2012 at 7:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sgtmike132

We had worked hard to get a friend of ours elected and he turned out to be the dirtiest politician/law supervisor ever. So I called him on his broken promises and he used all his resources to shut me up. I ended up resigning (like a dope) and wrote a decent book about it.

September 13 2012 at 9:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bill

If you dis-agree with the boss's political opinion you could very well be held back come promotion time.

September 13 2012 at 6:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Leo

For one thing, one must remember, you are hired to do a job, not talk politics. When on break, you are paid for that time too, so anything you say can and will be used against you for speaking your piece. It is best to keep your opinions to yourself if you want to keep your job. It's not a matter of your freedom of speech that is of important here.

September 13 2012 at 6:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mimi

bunch of bs. most big corporations donate big money to political candidates and yet would punish employees for talking about political candidates.

September 13 2012 at 5:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Mimi's comment
Henry

Not to mention they can FORCE the employees to go and support them at rallies, etc. Thank those lovely Teapublicans for this as they use your Constitution as a BW.

September 13 2012 at 7:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Henry's comment
WackyDan

Teapublicans? Aren't you actually talking about union shops?

September 17 2012 at 10:12 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down
Ryan Vigus

The Constitution has very little to do with the private sector. It's a check on govt power after all. Which part of it do you think protects your speech in the private sector?

September 17 2012 at 2:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
dennisapnyc

SO talking politics at work is "hostile".?? If that's the case, then the party considered to be hostile is probably a jerk already....but if not, why should your opinion NOT be protected under the 1st Amendment.?

September 13 2012 at 3:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to dennisapnyc's comment
Buddy Maxwell

Whenever anyone asks me what my politics are, I reply: "The same as my religion!" Being an Agnostic, I have to explain the definition, which is "Ag" from Greek meanng Not, and "Nos" from Latin meaning To Know. "In other words, I am a Not Knower! Leaving the inquirer totally confused at that point, I wish them to have a nice day, and walk away. LOL

September 13 2012 at 2:27 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Buddy Maxwell

Whenever anyone asks me what my politics are, I reply: "The same as my religion!" Being an Agnostic, I have to explain the definition, which is "Ag" from Greek meanng Not, and "Nos" from Latin meaning To Know. "In other words, I am a Not Knower! Leaving the inquirer totally confused at that point, I wish them to have a nice day, and walk away. LOL

September 13 2012 at 2:27 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Buddy Maxwell

Whenever anyone asks me what my politics are, I reply: "The same as my religion!" Being an Agnostic, I have to explain the definition, which is "Ag" from Greek meanng Not, and "Nos" from Latin meaning To Know. "In other words, I am a Not Knower! Leaving the inquirer totally confused at that point, I wish them to have a nice day, and walk away. LOL

September 13 2012 at 2:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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