b'PAGE 18 / NATIONAL CLOTHESLINE / AUGUST, 2020K EEP I T L EGAL BY RANK OLLMANF KPolitical speech in the workplacehisarticleisnotabout ticsinvadestheworkplace? theFirstAmendmentand preted as evidence of discrimi- But I Kneel for the NationalT theweather,which What do you do when three guarantees of free speech do nation based on race, sex, age, Anthem.Youareprobablywould be a much easier employeesarearguingover not apply to private employ- color, religion, national origin, safe allowing American flags,topic. Then again, many peo- their pins, tee shirts, masks, or ers.Theyapplytogovern- disability, and so on could be providedyoudonotallowple have strong feelings about other articles of clothing that ments, so you do not have to usedbycurrentandformer Confederate flags. climatechange,soevendis-cussingtheweatherhasitsrisks. The First Amendment and guarantees of free speech In any event, my topic thismonth is politics in the work- do not apply to private employers. They apply toplace. As we all know from televi-sion, social media, the Internet, governments, so you do not have to tolerate and other sources of informa-tionandmisinformation, political speech in the workplace.Americaissomethingofahouse divided, as AbrahamLincolncalleditbeforethe say, respectively, Black Lives tolerate political speech in the employeestobolstertheir A good starting point is thatCivil War. Matter, Blue Lives Matter, workplace. claims of discrimination. anything written and express-Even recommendations on and All Lives Matter? What In fact, you have a constitu- EspousingyourChristian ingapoliticalpointofviewdealingwithCovid-19have is your companys policy on tional right, sort of, to take a views of business ethics is fine, cannot be displayed. If some-becomepoliticalandpeople displaying Confederate flags, stand on any of the issues of until someone claims that you one complains about a bumperare taking sides. TrumporBidenpins,pride the day, communicate them to are criticizing their closely held sticker on a car in the parkingPersonally, I have stopped rainbows, or I Like Ike but- youremployees,anddare religious beliefs. I suspect that lot, deal with that as best youusingFacebookbecause(1) tons? themtodisagree.Ofcourse, a court will be asked eventu- can.people I generally like and re- Recently, my wife told me that may be the verbal equiva- allywhetheranemployers The best approach is to ap-spect are saying stupid things, that some radical group is try- lent of sending employees and viewsonlootingduring ply common sense, but evenand (2) I do not want to say ing to make Hawaiian shirts its customers home, dousing the protesting is evidence of racial common sense is hard to findstupid things myself, whether symbol,makingmyTommy place with gasoline, and set- discrimination. these days. Tell your employ-intentionallyornot,inre- Bahamacollection(three ting it on fire.AmIsayingthatthere eeswhoinsistontheirfreesponse to other peoples posts. shirts) possibly inflammatory. Evenyourrighttostate should be a complete ban on speech rights that you cannotPlus, I feel like I am being ma- Should your company policy your position to your employ- political discussion or displays have employees fighting overnipulated by Facebook while it benoHawaiianshirtson eesonpoliticalissues,how- in the workplace, a zero-toler- issues raised by the words theyalso exploits me for profit. Hawaiian shirt day? ever, has its limits. Any views ance policy so to speak? displayontheirclothesandWhat do you do when poli- Let me begin by stating that you state that could be inter- Not really, because a com- cars.Worktimeisforwork,plete ban on political discus- not campaigning.sion in the workplace has prac- BecauseIamalawyer,Itical limitations, including in have to give you one exceptionthese strange times identifying to the general rule of no politi-what topics are political and cal slogans. Pro-union buttonswhat topics are not. and slogans enjoy some pro-In most cases, the best ap- tection under the National La-proachistotellemployees bor Relations Act. If employeeswhogetintopoliticalargu- start wearing such buttons andments to stop unless they can slogans, get legal advice rightdo so in a way that does not away on your response, andharm their work relationship notmerelyyourresponsetoorpreventthemfromdoing the wearing of buttons. their work. It may get to the If you do not currently havepoint that you have to tell both a problem with political slo-employees to stop at the risk gansanddiscussionsintheof disciplinary action. But stop- workplace,Idonotrecom-pingthemfromtalking,or mend making a big deal aboutcontrollingeveryaspectof adoptingapolicyagainsttheir conversations, is a fool- them.Ifsomeonedecidestohardy endeavor.test the waters, maybe thatsPolitical slogans displayed the time to consider such a pol-or worn proudly are another icy.story. You can prohibit them, If you do not need a ruleprovided you do not discrimi- right now, it may be better tonate among slogans, symbols, wait until you do. But whenor political paraphernalia. you do, try as hard as you canWhilediscriminatingbe- toapplycommonsenseandtweengoodslogansand compassion.Proudtobebad slogans may be lawful Managementteeshirtsandwhen analyzed by a lawyer, it Covid masks are now on sale.could be a morale killer to doso. I would rather see you banemployeesfromwearingI Frank Kollman is a partner in theLove My Labrador Retriever law firm of Kollman & Saucier,thanhavetodecideifKiss PA, in Baltimore, MD. He can beMe, Im Irish is the same as reached by phone at (410) 727-Proudly Pro-Life or Proud 4300 or fax (410) 727-4391. HisPalestinian in terms of accept- firms web site can be found atable workplace speech. www.kollmanlaw.com. It has ar-It becomes even more prob- ticles, sample policies, news andlematic when a tee shirt says otherinformationonem-To learn more, visit www.natclo.com/ads I Love America, followed by ployee/employer relations.'