It used to be that politics in the workplace was a very taboo subject. I have worked for companies in the past that would go as far as reprimand any employee or management that would engage in such conversation, simply because it is so easy to create animosity amongst workers. But that was then and this is now. Now we have people like Mitt Romney, who think politics in the workplace is a very good idea.
Back in June of this year, Romney held a conference call with the conservative National Federation of Independent Business. In that call, Romney had this to say about the upcoming election:
I hope you make it very clear to your employees what you believe is in the best interest of your enterprise and therefore their job and their future in the upcoming elections. And whether you agree with me or you agree with President Obama, or whatever your political view, I hope — I hope you pass those along to your employees. Nothing illegal about you talking to your employees about what you believe is best for the business, because I think that will figure into their election decision, their voting decision and of course doing that with your family and your kids as well.
I will give Romney credit here; he played it very safe. If Romney told these people that they should tell their employees to “vote for Romney”, then we would be looking at something illegal. Instead he did some wordsmithing to stay away from any legal problems.
But even if this does fall into the realm of being legal, it is still morally questionable. Having an employer say something like that to an employee carries a certain weight of threat to it. They don’t have to say “vote for Romney or lose your job”, but simply saying “A Romney win is in your best interest,” is the nicer way of putting it.
Seeing Romney and Republicans try to circumvent the safeguards we have had in place to keep our own political beliefs and work ethics separate is very troubling. They are skewing the lines of right and wrong and in turn trying to change us into a nation that resembles The Stepford Wives. That is a scary though in and of itself, and one I don’t want to see go any further.
And finally, I’m siting here wondering what would happen if an employee said to their employer “Sorry, but President Obama has done more for me than Mitt Romney ever would”. What if that employee disagrees with their bosses? Would they be fired? Or what if management is directed to have these talks and one refuses; would that manager be subject to termination?
I can easily see this turning into a serious legal issue if it is pushed. Hopefully if it does evolve into that, the courts will side with the policies that have kept our work place and politics separate for decades. Not only do our jobs depend on it, but our very democracy. It is that important of an issue.