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Heated election season could keep HR departments busy

PHOENIX — It has been a presidential race the likes of which have been rarely seen in the United States — a pair of candidates with highly unfavorable ratings on the attack in an election cycle that is 24/7. It’s almost impossible to ignore.

This extends into the workplace. Valley attorney Pavneet Uppal with the law firm Fisher Phillips said those strong opinions can often wreak havoc on office harmony.

“We advise employers and employees to follow the adage of not talking about religion and politics at work,” Uppal said.

“There’s a common misconception in the general public that people have a constitutional right to freedom of expression but that’s actually not correct. The First Amendment only applies to government actions that censor speech but private employers are generally free to restrict their employees speech in the workplace.”

Uppal said whether the discussions surround Hillary Clinton’s positions or the positions of Donald Trump, it’s best to avoid them at work.

“Because they could give rise to claims of a hostile working environment. For example if someone expounds on Trump’s position of building a wall or his comments about Mexican immigrants, you can easily see how some Hispanic employees could take offense and that could lead to claims of harassment or hostile work environment which would trigger an investigation.

“Under the law the employer would be required to look into the complaint and put an end to it if the conduct is of a harassing nature.”

Headaches that employers want to avoid because it takes away from the core mission of engaging in business.

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