Recently, cancel culture has become a buzzword. Some commentators have said that people are losing their jobs not because of performance, but because of their political views and even speech. In fact, there are even memes going around that claim to show some employers are unwilling to hire either liberals or conservatives. However, people should know that some states, including California, have laws against political discrimination in the workplace.
Partisanship and employment law
Right now, America is very divided politically. Many people have even ended friendships over political disputes. In this kind of environment, it can be difficult to navigate a workplace. Employers hire workers for their expertise. They come from a number of different backgrounds and will naturally have a variety of outlooks when it comes to politics.
Of course, hiring decisions are discriminatory almost by definition. Some discrimination is appropriate. For example, a staff accountant needs to have facility with numbers. Discriminating against people who are bad at math in that context is not problematic. Discrimination based on protected categories, however, is. In California, it’s explicitly illegal to discriminate based on political activities and party membership.
There are other states where this is true, too. North Dakota and New Mexico have similar laws. Some cities, like Seattle, Washington, also have protections in place to prohibit political discrimination against workers. Private employers, however, may be able to fire workers for some offensive speech. Freedom of speech does not apply in private companies.
Discrimination law can be very complicated when it comes to the workplace. If you or a loved one believe you’ve been illegally discriminated against, it’s a good idea to contact an attorney. An experienced lawyer may be able to help you determine whether or not you have an actionable case.