How should an employer deal with a complaint from an employee that a colleague is expressing political views that he or she finds offensive?
The employer should use its normal grievance procedure to deal with a complaint from an employee that a colleague is expressing political views that he or she finds offensive. If the employer has a policy on political activities in the workplace, it should refer the employees to this. Any such policy should make clear that employees should not engage in political activities that could cause offence to or intimidate colleagues.
It may be sufficient for the employer to raise its concerns informally with the employee who is expressing the views, and to suggest that he or she avoids raising political issues at work. However, where there is evidence of conduct that could amount to harassment, the employer should initiate its formal disciplinary process, in conjunction with the grievance procedure.
Employers should be aware of employees' right to freedom of expression under the European Convention on Human Rights. However, this right is not absolute and should be balanced against the rights of others. Employers have a duty to ensure that employees are not behaving in a way that amounts to harassment of their colleagues, so the right to freedom of expression should not prevent an employer from following its disciplinary procedure in these circumstances.