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Photo of Michelle Cohen Levy

Can you fire someone for their political beliefs?

On Behalf of | Sep 29, 2021 | Employment Law |

Political beliefs are important to Americans, and many do not keep these beliefs a secret. They are more than willing to talk and debate with others about what they support or what they are against. Some of this may take place at work.

As an employer, you may discover that someone you hired has political beliefs that you completely disagree with. They may be an excellent employee, but it’s hard for you to look beyond their political stance. You may also feel that it upsets the workplace if most of the other workers agree with you.

If so, you may consider letting that person go on the grounds that they’re just not a good fit for the job or the workplace environment you’ve tried to create. Is it legal to fire someone based on their political stance?

Florida does provide protection for voting

In a general sense, political opinions are not a protected class, like race or gender. If someone keeps starting arguments at work, you can fire them, and you have not violated their rights. After all, political opinions are something that people choose, not something that is an inherent part of them — such as their gender.

However, Florida law specifically recognizes that employers could try to use this to influence the way that their employees vote. Under state law, you may not fire someone for voting, not voting, or expressing who they plan to vote for.

For instance, that employee may state their intention to vote for a specific candidate during a meeting. You can disagree with their choice, but if you tell them that they’ll be fired if they vote that way, it’s illegal. You would be trying to intimidate them to vote in accordance with your preferences, which is a violation of their rights.

These can become complex cases

Regardless of the law, employees may feel that it is unfair to be fired for expressing their opinions, and this could lead to very complex lawsuits with a lot at stake. Make sure you know exactly what options you have.