Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Employee harangues in the land of the free

Readers may be aware that the US Supreme Court recently struck down controls on corporate political spending as an unconstitutional limit on free speech A recent article reports on the downside of that decision for employees. The article by Paul Secunda points out that:

"Already, American employers are increasingly using the captive audience technique to force their employees to learn about the employer’s political and religious views. During these sessions, employees may be forced, at the risk of losing their jobs, to listen to their employer’s perspective on the latest political and religious issues of the day"

The author gives examples of ranging from Wal-Mart conducting mandatory meetings encouraging employees to vote against Obama because of his support for the Employee Free Choice Act to increasingly intrusive employer-backed workplace christian evangelising.

He points out that:
“no … federal law exists that prevents corporations from requiring, on pain of termination, that employees attend one-sided partisan speeches, rallies, videos, or other events that advocate the election of specific candidates or parties. Nor is there any law that prohibits corporations from requiring that supervisors engage their subordinates in express advocacy conversations on work time, and requiring that employees participate in such conversations….There is no requirement that opposing candidates be offered equal time, or even that employees themselves be permitted to ask questions or voice their own opinions.”
Another reason why personal grievance rights need protection?
See the paper at


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Government discussion paper on PGs

In case you missed it the government has just released its discussion paper on personal grievances. Submissions due by 24 March - a whole 3 weeks to consider and respond to one of the core areas of employment law!

When I read it in detail I will comment. However even a brief glance over it shows a strong focus on employer concerns with loaded questions that will encourage criticisms of the current law. Interestingly there is virtually no mention of why the PG protection exists or of the problems that employees might face in taking a grievance. Even the basic notion that employees should have a clear right to protection from unjustified and arbitrary actions or other actions that cannot be objectively justified seems to have been overlooked.

The Ministers press statement can be found at the following link which contains a link to the discussion papers http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/submissions+sought+personal+grievances