Q: Can a private employer limit its employees’ speech and political activity in the workplace?
A: Yes, but not speech that is considered part of a “concerted activity.”
Last year, former San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick, kneeled during the national anthem to bring attention to racial injustice. On Saturday September 23, 2017, in a series of tweets, President Trump demonstrated his displeasure with NFL players who do not stand during the national anthem and called for their termination. In response to President Trump’s comments, NFL players across the country have been “taking a knee,” locking arms or staying in the locker room during the national anthem. These demonstrations have generated a lot of discussion about whether a private employer can limit an employee’s speech and political activity in the workplace.
Although the right to freedom of speech is fundamental, it is not absolute.