California Labor &
Employment Law Blog
Think Twice Before Firing an Employee for Political Reasons
Aug 23, 2017

Think Twice Before Firing an Employee for Political Reasons


There has been a lot of media attention recently over companies firing employees based on their political views and activities, or otherwise making known to employees that company leadership is of a particular political mindset and that contrary beliefs are not welcome.  Based on these publicized stories, there may be a growing tendency for other companies to want to “jump on the bandwagon” and take similar action to distance themselves from employees with unpopular or extreme political views.  If you are a California employer, that is not a great idea.  California has several laws protecting employees’ rights to engage in lawful political expression and political activity.  Labor Code sections 1101 and 1102 prohibit employers from attempting to coerce or influence the political activities or affiliations of their employees.  These laws further prohibit employers from retaliating against an employee (e.g. firing an employee) because of the employee’s political activity.   Similarly, Labor Code section 96(k) prohibits employers from taking adverse action against an employee based on the employee’s lawful off-duty conduct (including political activity) occurring away from the employer’s premises.  Violation of these laws can lead to a claim for wrongful termination in violation of public policy and possible damages including back pay, emotional distress, and punitive damages. 

This is not to say that an employer’s hands are completely tied when it comes to employee political conduct.  If the conduct is unlawful (and the employer has pretty good evidence of this), then it is not protected.  Similarly, workplace conduct that is hostile, unprofessional, disruptive of work, or inciteful can be dealt with via discipline, even if the conduct relates to one’s political views.

About CDF

For over 25 years, CDF has distinguished itself as one of the top employment, labor and immigration firms in California, representing employers in single-plaintiff and class action lawsuits and advising employers on related legal compliance and risk avoidance. We cover the state, with five locations from Sacramento to San Diego.

> visit primary site

About the Editor

Robin Largent has a regular presence in California state and federal courts and has been lead defense counsel and appellate counsel for large and small California employers in litigation (and arbitration) ranging from individual discrimination and harassment claims to complex wage and hour representative and class actions. She also leads the firm’s appellate practice, having substantial experience and success handling appeals, writ petitions, and amicus briefs in both state and federal court on issues such as class certification (particularly in the wage and hour arena), manageability and due process concerns associated with class action trials, exempt/non-exempt misclassification issues, meal and rest break compliance, trade secret/unfair competition matters, and the scope of federal court jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act.
> Contact   > Full Bio   Call 916.361.0991

CDF Labor Law LLP © 2020

About CDF What We Do Contact Us Attorney Advertising Disclaimer Privacy Policy Cookie Policy