Employers can’t restrict employees from running for office

Election years always get me thinking. This election cycle is no different, and considering it appears anyone can run for office, I was wondering what are the rules regarding running for any political office as it relates to the employer and employee relationship.

There are numerous political offices that one can seek election to, from everything from water districts, city councils, to utility commissions. Most local political offices are filled by members of the local community. The necessary evil of all political offices is the campaign itself which means unless the candidate works for themselves would include running a campaign while they maintain a job.

Your knee jerk reaction might be to say that a political candidate is unable to work a job while they run for office due to perceived conflicts of interest. However, California protects employees that desire to run for office from termination.

California Labor Code sec. 1101 states:

That no employer shall make, adopt, or enforce any rule, regulation, or policy – (a) Forbidding or preventing employees from engaging or participating in politics or from becoming candidates for public office; (b) Controlling or directing, or tending to control or direct the political activities or affiliations of employees. This section, prevents employers from controlling political activities of employees, is not unconstitutional as arbitrarily or unreasonably limiting the right to contract.  Lockheed Aircraft Corp. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County (1946) 28 Cal.2d 481, 171 P.2d 21. In addition, no employer may coerce or influence his or her employees by means of threat of discharge or loss of employment to adopt, or follow, or refrain from adopting or following, any particular course or line of political action or political activity. These prohibitions protect applicants for employment as well as on the job employees.

Be clear that the law does not require the employer to support the ideas or campaign of the employee candidate and the employer can and should require that the employee to run their campaign outside of working hours. But if you have a employee considering a run for office your best bet to support them, because who knows they just may win and it would be good to know someone in office.

RAXTER LAW

Employment/ Business Law

27851 Bradley Rd, Suite 145

Menifee, Ca 92586

951-226-5294