Can You Pay Your Employees to Attend a Political Rally?

by Evil HR Lady on August 23, 2019

Last week, a company in Pennsylvania made headlines when they told employees to either attend a Trump rally, take a vacation day, or take a day off. It seems like an abuse of power for a company to demand attendance at a political rally. (Although technically, it was an “official event” and not a campaign one, that is just semantics. Trump’s opponents are campaigning heavily, and Trump urged attendees to vote for him.)

Lots of people were upset, but this falls into one of those categories of things you can do, but you should not do. As employment attorney Jon Hyman says, it’s a terrible idea, but  in all likelihood, there is nothing illegal about this practice.”

To keep reading, click here: Can You Pay Your Employees to Attend a Political Rally?

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

grannybunny August 23, 2019 at 7:32 pm

Normally, any company would be honored to host a visit from the President of the United States, especially a company — as here (and like many) — hoping to derive a benefit from the Government. I agree with Jon Hyman that it was a terrible idea to penalize those who chose not to attend. I also think that it was wrong for one of the contractors whose employees attended to issue them a code of conduct unduly restricting their behavior during their attendance. If you don’t trust your own employees to conduct themselves civilly, don’t send them to the event. Frankly, I don’t approve a paying anyone to attend a political event unless they’re there to work. I virulently object to the characterization of Google’s firing of James Damore’s as being for his “political speech.” Damore circulated a memo at his workplace, based on a bunch of discredited junk science, asserting that his female co-workers were more prone to “hysteria” and — otherwise — biologically unsuited for their jobs. Had he targeted African-Americans, Jews, men, or just about any other group, no apologists would be attempting to spin it as anything other than the hate speech that it was.

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BethRA August 23, 2019 at 7:38 pm

I’m ok with companies paying people to attend rallies (although it makes me wonder at what point the FEC might consider that a campaign contribution) as long as they’re transparent about it. But to me that’s different from strong-arming people into participating by making anyone who didn’t feel like being a prop burn a vacation day or not get paid.

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Elizabeth West August 23, 2019 at 9:40 pm

They should NOT have forced people to attend by withholding overtime pay that they EARNED. That’s wrong. If it’s not illegal, it should be. If I did the work, you need to pay me, and you can’t dictate what I do with my earned pay.

You couldn’t give me enough money to attend one of these hate rallies in any case. I’d rather quit.

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MariaRose August 24, 2019 at 12:56 am

Let’s make it plain and simple, the only reason, this attendance to the rally or not get paid, is such a big deal, has more to do with anti-Trump feelings. Having said that, the article does point out a clear fact, while one is at work, what the boss says you do, you do. If you don’t do as requested, then you don’t get paid–very clear. I am quite sure that many of those who attended the rally didn’t complain about getting paid to just be there. It was the few, non-supporters of Trump who felt they were being “harassed” to attend, who made a big deal out of being “forced” into being there, but they did get paid. I equate that to having a cake with ice cream, instead of just cake.
As to Elizabeth West complaining about “forced” overtime being withheld, the employees who attended got paid, those who didn’t, lost out of paid time in any form as per company announcement and covered by labor law and not illegal.

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Anon August 24, 2019 at 3:56 am

Does the fact that he has a long history of racist remarks factor into this? Let’s say you have an employee who is Mexican and Trump gets up and does his “they’re rapists!” routine again. Or a Jewish employee and he goes of on a “they’re disloyal!” rant again. Couldn’t the employee reasonably claim that the event created a hostile work environment and they had been subjected to hate speech at work? I’m not a lawyer, but having a racist speak to your workforce for and linking their compensation to attending sounds like a possible recipe for disaster.

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