Unlawful to Terminate Employee for Political Activities?

You may have heard about the recently filed lawsuit against Google in which it is alleged that Google terminated the employment of an employee for his political viewpoint comments that he made over a company internal communications network. So you might wonder, are or can political comments be protected speech in the workplace environment? The answer is yes, they can be. See below California Labor Code §§1101 and 1102.

However, whether or not a comment or activity constitutes a political comment or activity is a question of fact that depends on the facts of the particular situation, even if the comment or activity qualifies as “political” in nature, again, depending on the facts and circumstances of the particular situation, the comment or activity might still be unprotected based on other factors, and the employer may also have a defense if the termination was because of or justified for some other legally legitimate or permissible reason.

There are relatively few cases that interpret §§1101 and 1102, or what comments or activities are “political” in nature.

Best to you, David Tate, Esq.

For your additional information, California Labor Code §§1101 and 1102 state as follows:

1101. Political activities of employees; prohibition of prevention or control by employer

No employer shall make, adopt, or enforce any rule, regulation, or policy:

(a) Forbidding or preventing employees from engaging or participating in politics or from becoming candidates for public office.

(b) Controlling or directing, or tending to control or direct the political activities or affiliations of employees.

1102. Coercion or influence of political activities of employees

No employer shall coerce or influence or attempt to coerce or influence his employees through or by means of threat of discharge or loss of employment to adopt or follow or refrain from adopting or following any particular course or line of political action or political activity

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