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Political Clashes In The Workplace & The Negative Environment It Creates

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NPR
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As we await election results, clashes in political ideologies between coworkers or managers can create a negative work environment.

Cheri Raymond is an Employment Law Attorney with Lynn, Jackson, Schultz & LeBrun in SiouxFalls.

Raymond says some states protect a person’s right to free political expression but it is not specifically protected in South Dakota.

She says the First Amendment applies only in cases of government interference in protected speech and does not apply to private employers.

“Any good employer is going to have – potentially – a policy that outlines behavior, such as bullying, that’s not illegal but, obviously, not wanted in the workplace. Bullying is tied to decrease in employee morale, decrease in productivity, and it’s not something any employer wants in their workplace.”

Raymond says it is important for companies to establish clear policies so employees understand what is or is not acceptable.

Dan Oakland is CEO and Senior Human Resources Consultant for Alternative HRD in Sioux Falls.

Oakland says most companies don’t have specific policies on politics but do have policies on bullying and respectful conduct.

He encourages people to reach out to their managers or HR departments if bullying is taking place.

“We’d rather they bring up, if they can, before it escalates to the point where they feel bullied, but certainly things can escalate very quickly. So immediately is important if something occurs that they feel threatened, that they feel bullied, that they feel harassed in any way.”

Oakland says managers should work with their employees because even a one-time event can escalate.