Should Employers Tell Workers who to Vote for?

Businesswoman threatens with fistVoting is what makes America a democracy. We as citizens have the power to elect who we desire to lead us. We have the power to choose and it is a choice that should not be made lightly.

Many things are thrown at us in an attempt to influence our choice: fliers, TV ads and commercials, events and, of course, the candidates themselves. With various things trying to sway us around elections, it can sometimes be difficult to not allow them to significantly impact the way we think and feel. On top of everything else, do Americans now have to add their employers to the list of voting propaganda?

More and more employers are telling—directly and indirectly—their employees who to vote for, especially during this 2012 Presidential Election. Examples?

Incident #1

Two weeks ago Westgate Resorts CEO David Siegel sent an email to his 7,000 workers letting them know what may happen to the company (and their jobs) if President Obama wins next month’s election.

“If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, as our current President plans, I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company,” he wrote. “Rather than grow this company I will be forced to cut back. This means fewer jobs, less benefits and certainly less opportunity for everyone.”

Incident #2

The Koch brothers told 45,000 of their Georgia Pacific workers that they could “suffer the consequences, including higher gasoline prices, runaway inflation, and other ills” if the employees voted for those candidates not supported by Koch-owned companies or its political fund-raising component.

Incident #3

ASG Software CEO Arthur Allen sent his employees an email (obtained by MSNBC’s “Up w/ Chris Hayes”) that read:

“But I can tell you, if the US re-elects President Obama, our chances of staying independent are slim to none… If we fail as a nation to make the right choice on November 6th, and we lose our independence as a company, I don’t want to hear any complaints regarding the fallout that will most likely come… I am asking you to give us one more chance to stay independent by voting in a new President and administration on November 6th.”

Now, this past June, Mitt Romney encouraged business owners to let their employees know which candidate businesses support and how the election’s outcome will affect their companies at a National Federation of Independent Businesses town hall. This is all quite interesting.

In a country built upon the freedom to make your own choices as an individual, should workers have to feel threatened or concerned about their future employment if they don’t make the “correct” political choice? Employers telling (or insinuating) who an employee should vote for is not illegal, but is it ethical? Does it promote diversity and the acceptance of new ideas in the workplace?

I do not feel employers should tell their employees who to vote for, whether directly or indirectly. I do not think it is ethical to explain the consequences an employee may face if he or she votes in a manner other than what a company feels is suitable. Offering education and awareness about effects and/or changes on/to business policies once a new candidate takes office can occur, but even that is a slippery slope. Employees, like all other voters, should do their homework when it comes to the issues and each candidate’s views before voting; I do not think it is the place nor the role of the employer to sway its workers into choosing any elected official.

Ultimately, no employer will accompany its employee into a voting booth, but I think it comes down to the principal of the matter. What does it say about your company if you need to push your employees to vote according to the company’s wants and needs?

I am interested to hear your thoughts. Do you think it is okay for employers to tell their workers who to vote for?

in Organizational Culture]
Shala Marks
Shala Marks is an online editor and writer for Recruiter.com. Marks’ stories have also been published in a variety of newspaper, magazine and online formats including The Arizona Republic, The Daily Herald, Arizona Foothills Magazine and various classroom magazines of Scholastic Inc. Service is her passion, writing is her platform and uplifting and inspiring the community is her purpose. Marks received a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication from Arizona State University.
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