Jolena Jeffrey Quoted on Political Expression in the Workplace

Katz, Marshall & Banks associate Jolena Jeffrey was quoted in a SHRM article, “How HR Should Respond to Social and Political Expression at Work.”

With the presidential election quickly approaching, and the country in the midst of social unrest in the wake of several deaths at the hands of the police, more and more employees may want to express their personal support for a political candidate or movement at their workplace.

“Thousands of Americans are actively engaging in social justice movements and standing up for causes such as Black Lives Matter,” explained Ms. Jeffrey. “Individuals are not only showing their solidarity by protesting but also by displaying apparel with Black Lives Matter messages on the job.”

This can put employers in a difficult situation, and has renewed questions about employee rights to express themselves politically on the job. While employers can legally ban any clothing, including political messaging, Ms. Jeffrey suggests that doing so may risk bad publicity or low employee morale.

“Changing company policies and allowing employees to assert political messages on their work apparel can create positive public reception.”

The key is to be consistent, and apply a dress code evenly and without bias. It’s important not to appear to support or oppose a candidate or movement, and avoid any perception of discrimination.

Read the full article here.