Attorney General Lockyer Reminds Businesses That California Law Protects Workers From Political Intimidation
(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today reminded businesses that California law prohibits employers from controlling or directing their workers' political activities or affiliations.
Lockyer issued the reminder after receiving inquiries as the 2004 general election campaign heads into its final days.
"Employees and employers have free speech rights to engage in political debate," said Lockyer. "That's what democracy is all about. Employers should be aware, however, that it is unlawful in California to engage in political intimidation of their workers, or to exert control over their employees' political activities."
Violations of the Labor Code provisions at issue are misdemeanors. Both businesses and their managers, officers, agents, and employees can be held liable for violations. Labor Code section 1101 states: "No employer shall make, adopt, or enforce any rule, regulation, or policy: (a) forbidding or preventing employees from engaging or participating in politics or from becoming candidates for public office; (b) controlling or directing, or tending to control or direct the political activities or affiliations of employees."
Labor Code section 1102 provides: "No employer shall coerce or influence or attempt to coerce or influence his employees through or by means of threat of discharge or loss of employment to adopt or follow or refrain from adopting or following any particular course or line of political action or political activity."
The Attorney General's office maintains a whisteblower hotline to receive calls from persons who have information regarding possible violations of state or federal laws by a corporation or limited liability company. The number is 800-952-5225 (for California residents) or 916-322-3360 (for out-of-state residents).