Your political protest rights

April 28, 2017


Everyone has a right, as a matter of free speech, to express their political opinions and to spend personal time at political protests, including Monday’s demonstrations in honor of May Day and workers’ and immigrants’ rights.

We are going to be on high alert on Monday, but there is no uniform way that workplaces must respond to your desire to take time off to participate in a demonstration.

Here are a few pointers:

  • If your employer provides paid vacation or time off, you can inform your employer that you would like to use that time. Your employer should treat this request just as it would treat any other request for paid time off.
  • If you do not have paid vacation or time off, you can ask to take the day off without pay. Again, your employer’s response should be in line with how your employer would treat any similar request.
  • If you decide to take the day off without permission because you and your co-workers are trying to improve working conditions at your particular workplace, tell your employer that you are taking the day off in the hopes of improving your working conditions. Co-workers have the right to act together to improve their pay and working conditions, and it is unlawful for your employer to retaliate against you for that activity.

You can find more details (in Spanish, Chinese, and English) on our fact sheet “Your workplace rights as a political protester.”

Watch how your employer applies its policies about taking time off. If many employees take a day off to protest, but your employer disciplines members of only one group — based on race, national origin, religion, gender, political belief, or other protected status — you may have a discrimination claim.

Give us a call (415-864-8848) if you have any questions or concerns or you face retaliation for participating in a protest.

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