Q: A new employee has posted political signs on the bulletin board above his desk. Can we ask the employee to remove them? Or is displaying them considered an employee right?
A: Generally speaking, a private employer can ask an employee to remove political signs—or otherwise limit political expression in the workplace—as long as they don’t run afoul of protected Section 7 rights or applicable state laws. Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act gives employees the right to talk about the terms and conditions of their work and the right to unionize. While this law protects some political activities, it doesn’t give employees a right to display political signs at their workstations or the right to discuss, during work hours, politics that aren’t work-related. Employers who decide to limit speech should have and follow a non-solicitation policy. It is also important to keep in mind that several states more broadly protect the political speech of employees while off duty, so employers should focus on workplace behavior and not on limiting the beliefs or protected outside activities of their employees.
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