Can You Lose Your Job If You Participate In A Political Protest?
Thousands of people in about 40 cities took to the streets to protest the election of Donald Trump as the next president of the United States. They marched and protested peacefully. And many of those people probably took time off from work to do so. But can you get fired for skipping work to participate in a political demonstration? It depends on your occupation.
Before you protest, check out your company’s handbook and ask HR about the company’s viewpoint on their employees participating in such events. “Does your company have any point of view on how you conduct yourself outside of the office?; Would the company ever fire someone for exercising freedom of speech?; How does the company suggest you behave in this situation?,” reported Life Hacker.
It also might depend on the organization you are siding with. Some protests/demonstrations might be more “acceptable” to your form than others. “Engaging with the efforts of organizations like the ACLU or the International Rescue Committee is an excellent way to flex your activist muscles without endangering your career,” offered HR expert and career branding strategist Erica Breuer of Cake Resumes.
What if you get in trouble during the protest and the company finds out? Well, set the record straight and “apologize for putting the company in a bad or awkward position but assert your right to your freedom of speech,” reported Life Hacker. “If you simply shared your viewpoint (without publicly damaging the company) you haven’t done anything wrong.”
Legally, the company can take action against you though. “Only a few states, such as New York and California, protect an employee’s right to engage in legal off-duty activities. Some states also have far-reaching anti-discrimination laws. These laws may protect an employee’s political beliefs, including the right to engage in political activity. If you live in a jurisdiction without these protections, you can probably be fired for protesting. An employer can decide that it reflects poorly on the company, or that it creates a conflict of interest,” reported Find Law.
Despite the legalities of it all, the last word will come from your company. “Ultimately, you want to work for an employer that shares your values, but if participating in a public protest would create challenges to your 9-5 life, remember: It isn’t you’re only option in taking a stand,” Breuer pointed out.