Employers Cannot Keep Employees From Voting, or Threaten Employees to Vote For a Particular Candidate, Pittsburgh Employment Lawyer Explains

November 1, 2012--With the national election just days away, Pennsylvania employees should know that their employer cannot take action to stop them from voting or frighten them into voting for a candidate of the employer's choice, a prominent labor and employment lawyer said.

"Under Pennsylvania law, an employer cannot use either scheduling practices or other threats of actions to dissuade its workers from voting, said Attorney Samuel J. Cordes a downtown Pittsburgh labor and employment lawyer who has represented employees for more than 25 years.

Moreover, Pennsylvania employers cannot place political memos in employee's pay envelopes, or, within 90 days of an election, tell its employees that if a certain candidate is elected or defeated, the business will either shut down or work less hours.

In short, Cordes explained, employers cannot use the economic power that they have over their workers to threaten or coerce those workers to vote the way the employer would like.

"We do not allow employers to make losing your job the cost of voting and of supporting or opposing a candidate of your choosing," Cordes said. "The law does not make workers pay for voting as they want and supporting any candidate they choose."

Under Pennsylvania law, an employer who stops an employee from voting or attempts to coerce that employee into voting a certain way is criminally liable under the Election Code, Title 25, Section 3547.

In addition, Cordes said, an employee who was fired, or fined, or whose wages were reduced because of their desire to vote, or to support a certain candidate, would have a civil action, because taken that action would threaten the public policy of the Commonwealth as embodied in the election Code.

While an employer is not mandated to allow employees to take time off during the workday to vote, scheduling workers in a manner that would keep them from voting would most likely violate the Pennsylvania Election Code.

Cordes is the principal in Samuel J. Cordes & Associates, a Pittsburgh boutique labor and employment law firm. He has named the Pittsburgh Employment and Labor lawyer of the year for 2012 by Best Lawyers of America.