With protests, riots, a pandemic, and now division over a Supreme Court nominee, the social temperature is high and bleeding into the workplace. This summer when President Donald Trump tweeted asking followers not to purchase Goodyear tires, referencing a corporate diversity presentation where the tire manufacturer allegedly banned Make American Great Again (MAGA) attire but noted Black Lives Matter (BLM) apparel as acceptable, he brought the issue of politics in the workplace to the forefront for employers and employees. Both sides are debating whether BLM and MAGA are political or racial, and whether they belong in the work setting.
When does a political statement, even on an employee’s T-shirt, become racial and possibly discriminatory? When is it protected conduct? How do employers handle politics in the workplace, minimizing conflict and keeping everyone focused on work? There are no easy answers, but employer neutrality and equal treatment are the best alternatives.
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