As we all know, events occurring outside the workplace usually find their way into the workplace - but generally with little disruption or impact. It is therefore not surprising that the results of the recent election and the divisiveness that it has produced have spilled into the workplace - only this time with disruptive and serious consequences.
We are receiving reports of conflicts flaring up as a result of employees seeking to stir the pot, gloat, reject the results, or engage in similar conduct that, not surprisingly, has offended, upset and/or enraged fellow workers who hold differing opinions. Conflict and hard feelings ensue and, ultimately, workplace harmony and productivity suffer. In light of the unique and serious circumstances that are now happening as a result of the election, employers who may be experiencing similar problems or conflicts should consider communicating with their employees, through meetings or memos, about the following issues:
- Just as the President, the President-elect and Secretary Clinton have all stated, the election is over and it is now time for all of us to come together and work in harmony toward a common goal - and the same holds true in the workplace. We expect all employees to respect the opinions of fellow employees, regardless of whether they coincide with your own.
- Given the emotions and divisiveness that the campaign and election results have evoked, employees are prohibited from wearing open displays expressing political opinions, preferences or commentary on the election results, and are encouraged to avoid discussions of a political nature that are intended or can be expected to create hard feelings, conflict or division among your fellow employees in the workplace. [ Note: This provision would be particularly important in circumstances where such displays have already occurred. It is also recommended only for employers in the private sector. Public sector employers would have to balance First Amendment considerations.]
- Consistent with company policy, employees who engage in intimidating, harassing or threatening behavior will be subject to discipline, up to and including discharge.
- We understand that everyone has strong opinions on the results of the election, but we are all here for a different reason, with a common objective. Let's focus on that, understanding, and above all, respect for each other.
Hopefully, in another week or so, there will be no need for this discussion. Until then, if you have any questions or wish to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to contact Wessels Sherman Attorney Alan E. Seneczko at (262) 560-9696 or [email protected], or one of the attorneys at any of our four offices.