Archive for November, 2010

A Big Mac, large fries, and my vote?!

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Generally, employers maintain a cohesive work environment with their employees by following the simple rule of social etiquette at a party:  don’t talk about money, religion, and politics.  However, the endless political commercials, nonstop political chatter, and midterm stump speeches may have been just too much for one McDonald’s owner to keep his political views to himself.  


Recently, newspapers reported that earlier this month, the owner of a McDonald’s in Canton, Ohio, attached a pamphlet to the employees’ paychecks urging them to vote Republican candidates for governor, Senate, and Congress.  According to the reports, the pamphlet said: “If the right people are elected, we will be able to continue with raises and benefits at or above the current levels. If others are elected, we will not.”   It then named three Republican candidates after stating, “The following candidates are the ones we believe will help our business move forward.” The only problem is that it’s illegal for an employer in Ohio to attempt to influence the political votes of employees.  However, the political frenzy of the midterm elections isn’t limited to Ohio. 


Here in the Pacific Northwest, some grocery employees of Fred Meyer and Safeway recently complained about having to distribute flyers in favor of Washington’s ballot initiative 1100, which would have allowed grocery stores to sell hard liquor.  While there’s no specific prohibition in Washington, Oregon recently enacted ORS 659.785, which prohibits an employer from taking, or threatening to take, any adverse employment action against an employee for declining to attend or participate in an employer-related political or religious meeting or communication.  The statute also requires employers to post a notice at the worksite advising employees of their rights under the new law.  Of course, the statute doesn’t prohibit an employer from engaging in political or religious activities where attendance or participation is strictly voluntary. 


Therefore, if you’re an employer that’s a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Tea Partier, Green Partier, or an Independent, be smart:   don’t force employees to participate in any religious or political activity.  You’ll be happier and so will your employees.  Yes, the midterm elections are over, but before you know it, the 2012 political organizations will be in full-swing creating a compelling campaign of slogans, speeches, and sound bites.