Peter Cassat featured in an article by HRD about how HR handles employee involvement in protests and riots

Culhane Meadows’ Washington, DC partner Peter Cassat was recently quoted in an article by HRD about what choices employers have if employees are publicly revealed to be involved in protests or riots outside of work.

Here are a few excerpts from the article:

First thing Monday morning, you grab a cup of coffee and sit down to read the newspaper, shocked to see your employee’s mug gracing the cover. They were involved in a political demonstration over the weekend, and it turned violent. It’s only a matter of time before the social media sleuths discover where the person works and wonder how you can condone such heinous actions.

HR leaders across the United States have experienced similar situations over the past few years, with none more publicized than the riot at the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. on January 6, 2021. Though the events of the insurrection present unique issues regarding employee off-duty conduct and organizations’ responses to it, some overarching principles apply.

However, you usually don’t see companies clamping down on the First Amendment rights of their employees, according to corporate lawyer Peter Cassat, partner at Dallas-based law firm Culhane Meadows. “Companies would be out of place doing that with respect to activities outside the workplace,” Cassat told HRD. “When exercising those rights interferes with the performance of an employee’s conduct of their job responsibilities, then the employer is entitled to take action.”

“Sometimes, the individual’s conduct has nothing to do with the employment relationship, yet it can somehow tarnish the reputation or image of the company,” Cassat says. “That’s why companies are tempted to act, but when it’s really not within the realm of the employee’s conduct on behalf of the employer, it gets really tricky.”

“It’s important to allow employees to exercise their constitutional rights, but they should do so responsibly,” Anderson told HRD. “Our place of employment had a zero-tolerance policy for soliciting on company time, social and political stances included. We’re fully committed to employees exercising their rights on their personal time.”

Read their entire article HERE to learn more.


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