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Political Speech in the Workplace

Leslie Pedernales
MVA Data Points
October 2016
The upcoming presidential election between two larger-than-life characters, each capable of stirring intense emotional reactions from both sides, is sure to produce some spirited debate around the water cooler this fall.  Many employees mistakenly assume that their expression of political speech (including nonverbal expression such as buttons or signs) is protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  However, it might surprise you to learn that employers generally have the right to regulate employee political speech – the level of that control depends on whether the employer is a public or private entity and whether the employee is located in one of a handful of states that has special protections for the free speech of employees of private entities.

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