Employers Must Learn How to Handle Employees with Extreme or Unpopular Political Views

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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

The violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017 that left one person dead, several people injured, and some participants fired from their jobs as a result has brought to light “the question of how employers should handle the employment of workers who may hold extreme, unpopular, or controversial political views,” according to an article from Talent Economy.

In the article ‘What to Do About an Employee’s Controversial, Extreme Political Views,’ Brad Landin, president and chief compliance officer at Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a global employment background screening firm located in the San Francisco, California-area – was asked how employers should handle employees with unpopular or extreme political views.

Landin explained that employers can fire employees “at-will” – though this rule varies by state – unless an employee is a government worker or a unionized employee. Participating in protests that involve violent political views like in Charlottesville may fall under what Landin referred to as “off-duty bad conduct, which should be spelled out to all employees as they are hired.”

Landin told Talent Economy “there should also be a statement in the handbook about conduct that may conflict with the interests of the company or disrupt business operations and what harm the company is looking to restrict. This should be reviewed by an employment law specialist that has expertise in what state the business is based, as rules vary across the United States.”

Landin explained that the “more a company explains this up front, the better they protect themselves when terminating an at-will employment,” and added the “employer should address what bad conduct is through the employee handbook.” He said the handbook should have some acknowledgement via signature that the employee read and received the handbook.

“I can’t overemphasize the importance of whatever your policy is going to be, to have it written and that the individual was given notice,” Landin concluded. The article about employees with controversial political views written by Talent Economy Associate Editor Lauren Dixon is at: www.talenteconomy.io/2017/09/19/employees-controversial-extreme-political-views/.

In August 2017, ESR News reported that some common, but unfounded, job applicant fears about background checks included if the reports showed political views of applicants. Interviewed for an article by Monster.com, ESR Vice President of Strategic Growth Dawn Standerwick said that job seekers can be “rest assured” that their political views would not show up in a background check.

Workers with extreme political views may also raise the possibility of workplace violence if not dealt with properly by employers. ESR News also reported in August 2017 that a “disturbingly high” number of American workers – nearly one in five – faced a hostile or threatening social environment at work, according to the latest American Working Conditions Survey (AWCS).

The survey of 3,066 adults by RAND Corporation, Harvard Medical School, and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) – which revealed the American workplace can be “very physically and emotionally taxing” – found younger female workers were most likely to experience unwanted sexual attention while younger males were more likely to experience verbal abuse.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines workplace violence as “any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site.” OSHA reports nearly two million American workers report being victims of workplace violence each year and, unfortunately, many more cases go unreported.

Employers Must Deal with Workers with Extreme Political Views

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check provider and a strategic choice for employers wanting accuracy and compliance in their screening programs – can help employers reduce issues involving workers with extreme political views that may compromise workplace safety. To learn more about ESR, please visit www.esrcheck.com.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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