People often believe that the first amendment protects them from being discriminated against for their political beliefs. It may be surprising to find out in the US there are no certain protections against being fired for one’s political affiliation. Federal law does not protect workers against their political beliefs, but some states have laws regulating these issues.
In the state of California, a person cannot be fired for their political beliefs. California Labor Code 1101-1102 specifies that employers may not adopt rules that discriminate against political views.
What does California’s Labor Law specify regarding political beliefs?
CA Labor Law Sections 1101 and 1102 state that an employer may not do any of the following:
1. Make or enforce any rule or policy that forbids or prevents employees from participating in politics or running for office.
2. Make or enforce any rule or policy that controls or directs the political activities or affiliation of employees; or
3. Use the threat of employment loss to coerce, influence, or attempt to influence or influence employees to refrain from taking any course of political activity.
This section states that an employer may not take any action against an employee based on their political preference or actions. For example, an employer that fires Christian employees who attend a right for abortion protest, but does not take action against other employees. The employer is making a decision based on a person’s political preference. Another example could be if African American employees were fired for not attending Black Lives Matter protests, but people of other races were not chastised for whether they had attended or not. These could be cases of illegal race discrimination. In these situations, the employees could file a claim that the employers considered their political affiliations when making the decisions, and had broken the law doing so.
What type of activity is allowed under these Labor Law sections?
California’s Labor Laws allow for an employee’s political activities to not be restricted by employees outside of work. This does not protect against political beliefs inside of the workplace. An employer may bar employees from speaking about politics in the workplace.
What type of activity is NOT allowed under these Labor Laws?
An employer may refuse to allow employees from speaking about politics with clients or coworkers. The employer may also have the employee fired for promoting political beliefs the employer doesn’t support. For example, Gabby works for a newspaper that supports Candidate Bryan for Senator. The editors of the newspaper want an article written on their preferred candidate. Gabby chooses to write and favor a different candidate, which had cost Gabby their job. Gabby in this situation would not have a claim to file, as the newspaper editors are allowed to have a certain belief, and Gabby chose to defy the orders.
The law also does not protect against political activities outside of work that interferes with a person’s work. For example, Kevin worked at a record label that required his work full time. Kevin’s employer policy stated that employees may not engage in activities outside of work that involve significant time commitments without the employer’s approval. Kevin wanted to help work for a local church full time and had taken the job. The record label who employed Kevin fired him after Kevin had taken the other position. Kevin does not have a claim to file against political discrimination, as the employer had fired Kevin based on the commitment of time.
Contact Pride Legal
If you or a loved one has been fired for your political beliefs, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal for legal counseling or any further questions. To protect your rights, hire someone who understands them.
Q: Can a person sue their employer if they had taken politically based retaliation?
A: In most circumstances, yes. If a person had been fired over 2 years ago for political reasons, they will not have a claim to make. California’s statute of limitations is 2 years from when the person had been fired. If a person had been fired in the past 2 years for political beliefs, they may have a claim to file. Contact Pride Legal for your free consultation.
Q: How could a person start their claims?
A: They must first file a claim with the California Labor & Workplace Development agency. The agency has 65 days to tell the person whether they will investigate into their claim or not, and up to 180 days to complete their investigation. If a person is denied their claim, they can file a suit with the courthouse. If a person is granted their claim, the agency will look into your claim and have a citation issued to the employer. If a citation is not issued, the person may file a suit with the court for political activity coercion. Pride Legal is here to help you with all of your claim needs.