June 2014 HR Brain Teaser

Brain Teaser Courtesy of EPLI Pro™

You have an employee who’s a vegan, and has strong views on animal rights. She closes each of her emails with a quote from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) that reflects PETA’s political and emotionally charged views on animal rights. You have another employee who’s deeply Christian, and has begun a similar practice – closing his emails with quotes from the Bible or religious homilies of an unknown source.

Recently, your biggest client made a crack about the “radical whale hugger” at your office. While you feel fortunate that this client was willing to laugh it off, you’re concerned that other clients might not be as understanding regarding business email messages that contain references to political or religious views to which they don’t subscribe.

You want to instruct your employees that, when it comes to the company email system, “strictly business” is the order of the day.  Can you?

A.  No, this is free speech and protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
B.  Yes, you can.

Answer: B  Of course, free speech is protected in the United States, but the problem here is how and when these messages are being delivered – on your time, in your Company’s name, and with your email system. You have the right to control the content of Company email, but be sure to do so on a consistent basis – tell your people to stick to business related content, and save the politics and religion for their own time and communications systems.

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