Ever since Donald Trump assumed office in January 2017, everything has been so politicized in pretty much every area of our lives. Celebrities tweet about politics on a daily basis, families discuss the Trump administration’s policies at the dinner table, and politics seems to be the only topic discussed by workers during meal breaks.
But having to talk about politics during your water cooler conversation is not the worst thing that can happen to you. Being fired for your political views, on the other hand, is. Political discrimination in the workplace has been more real than ever in the Trump era, and it may constitute one of the types of wrongful termination in Pasadena and all across California.
Today, we brought our best wrongful termination attorney Jeffrey Rager to outline when employment termination for your political views and/or activities is illegal and when it is not.
Although California employment laws protect you from being wrongfully terminated for your political views, opinion or beliefs, it is not so simple. It would be illegal for an employer in Pasadena or anywhere else across California to fire, demote, or take any other form of adverse employment action against or otherwise punish his or her employee for being a member of a specific political party.
In addition to that, prohibiting employees from attending political rallies or taking part in any political activities would be illegal. Also, employers are not legally allowed to prohibit or obstruct their employees from becoming political candidates for public office.
Such actions may constitute “political discrimination” in the workplace, our Pasadena wrongful termination attorney at The Rager Law Firm explains.
Regardless of your political views, whether you are a Republican or Democrat supporter, a Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton voter, your employer in Pasadena or elsewhere in California is legally prohibited by law from trying to coerce or influence you to take any sort of political action. Moreover, you may be entitled to file a lawsuit against an employer who retaliates against you for opposing the above-mentioned wrongful practices.
What are the consequences of political discrimination at work? Our Pasadena wrongful termination lawyer explains that in some cases, political discrimination is criminally punishable and constitutes a misdemeanor. Employers who discriminate against employees on the basis of their political views or beliefs may face fines, fees, and civil damages. In some cases, you – as an employee who has been discriminated against because of your political views – may even recover damages (speak to a political discrimination attorney to find out more).
But that is where it gets tricky. You may still get fired for expressing your political views in the workplace or sharing politically-charged social media posts. There are cases when discriminating against employees does not constitute “wrongful termination” and employees are unable to take legal action against their employers for the seemingly wrongful dismissal.
Our attorneys at The Rager Law Firm explain that while the First Amendment prevents the U.S. government from adopting laws or taking any actions that would limit free speech, it does NOT protect you – as an individual citizen and employee in the private sector – from being terminated for your political beliefs.
In fact, if you are employed on an at-will basis like the vast majority of workers in Pasadena and California, you have even fewer protections when it comes to political discrimination at work. You see, an employer can fire at-will employees for any reason or no reason at all at any time.
Unless you have been fired on the basis of your age (if you are over 40), race, color, national origin, religion, physical or mental disability, pregnancy, medical condition, marital status, gender, sexual orientation, genetic information, military or veteran status, you may not be protected from wrongful termination under California’s employment laws.
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