With Super Tuesday coming up on March 3, 2020, it’s smart for employers to have a plan on how to handle voting day itself and the aftermath and its effects. Here are some quick tips to make sure that March 3rd comes and goes like business as usual at your company.
COMMUNICATE YOUR VOTING POLICY
In North Carolina, employers are not required to provide time off to allow employees an opportunity to vote, but now is a good time to review your employee handbook to see if you have an Election Day or politics policy. We will have another Election Day in just a few short months, so make sure you stay consistent with whether you decide to provide your employees an opportunity to leave during the workday to cast their vote and, if so, whether that time is compensated.
RISE ABOVE POLITICS
There is also the possibility that your employee handbook limits political discussion in the workplace, prohibits political signage or buttons, or forbids employees from talking about political candidates altogether. This can be a smart idea if implemented appropriately, as political discussion can include subjects like immigration, national origin, sex and gender, and “family values.” In other words, political discussions have a way of morphing into conversations that we can all agree are best not had at work.
Finally, while political affiliation is not a protected class under any federal law, North Carolina strictly prohibits any person from directly or indirectly intimidating, discharging, or threatening a legally qualified voter on account of their vote. A person who violates this law is guilty of a Class 2 Misdemeanor.
- Decide how you want to handle requests for time off for voting.
- Resist the urge to engage in political discussions.
- Establish your level of tolerance for political discussions among employees, and be ready to intervene if necessary.
* Note that rules regarding political speech may differ for public employers. Those considerations are outside the scope of this article.