Employers make political preferences heard in workplace

October 30, 2012 2:13:28 PM PDT
With one week until Election Day, the presidential campaign is reaching all the way into the workplace.

An employee at the Durham-based Triangle Orthopaedic Associates expressed her concerns to ABC11 after one of her bosses told employees he thought electing Romney as president would be in the best interest of the specialty hospital.

The mass email sent to TOA employees from head physician Dr. Thomas Dimmig is not threatening, just political.

In his message, Dimmig calls the president's healthcare plan "an attempt to kill the specialty hospital industry."

He adds, "Mitt Romney understands the importance of specialty hospitals and will extricate immediately from the current law."

At the end he tells workers, "these are my thoughts and I'm sorry if I offend anyone. Please vote the way you see fit from your own perspective and concerns."

Although this kind of email may make some employees uncomfortable, experts say it is perfectly legal.

"Unless you tell an employee, 'Vote for this person or else I'll fire you,' they can largely do what they want and say what they want," UNC Business Law Professor Jeffrey Hirsh said.

Hirsh points to the 2010 Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case, overturning some laws that banned employers from discussing political opinions with employees.

"More employers are aware that they're allowed to do this, so I think you'll see it becoming more popular," Hirsh said.

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