Oct 142009

Wired.com has a story out of Kansas about a copier salesman who is Suing his former employer for wrongful termination.  His claim is that his boss sent out e-mail telling employees they would be fired for voting for Obama. I’m not convinced on this one.

The lawsuit (.pdf) claims the president of KK Office Solutions’ pre-election e-mail criticizing Obama to company employees was no joke and instead resulted in the firing of a pro-Obama salesman, Elliot Snell, who openly made it known he supported and voted for Obama.

According to the lawsuit, “Mr. Snell was terminated for voting for his presidential candidate of choice. Voting for a president is acting in a manner that public policy would encourage as it is similar to civic duties/opportunities such as performing jury duty, seeking public office or joining a labor union.”

Naturally the owner of the company has responded that Mr. Snell’s termination was for cause, that being that he wasn’t selling any copiers. If true, that will be pretty easy to establish, and if so, Mr. Snell and his attorney should have to reimburse the company.

Further, I think there’s a lesson here for Mr. Snell, and all of us, that our rights to free speech and association are a bit limited when on company time. It appears from the story that Snell made sure everyone knew who he was voting for. I think people have the right to support whoever they want in whatever way they want, but there is some test of reasonableness when you’re at the office. Your company owns you during those hours, so leave it at home, and pull the curtain on the voting booth.

At my company, our HR director is a staunch Republican, and is well aware that I’m a big liberal. He loves to have discussions about politics with me. In fact, I’m at our headquarters this week, and he saw me yesterday and told me to be sure to stop by so we can discuss Florida politics. Generally, I’m fine with that, but I do guard what I say, and how far I go.

What do you think about bringing electoral politics into the workplace?

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