A McDonald’s franchisee in Canton finds itself in trouble this election season for including inside employees’ paychecks a pamphlet urging them to vote Republican. As if an employer’s inclusion of political literature with paychecks isn’t intimidating enough, the note stated, “If the right people are elected, we will be able to continue with raises and benefits at or above the current levels. If others are elected, we will not.”
These actions likely violate a little-known Ohio law that prohibits an employer from influencing the political opinions or votes of employees. O.R.C. § 3599.05 provides:
No employer or his agent or a corporation shall print or authorize to be printed upon any pay envelopes any statements intended or calculated to influence the political action of his or its employees; or post or exhibit in the establishment or anywhere in or about the establishment any posters, placards, or hand bills containing any threat, notice, or information that if any particular candidate is elected or defeated work in the establishment will cease in whole or in part, or other threats expressed or implied, intended to influence the political opinions or votes of his or its employees.
The lesson is simple—keep politics out of the workplace. It’s divisive, makes employees uncomfortable, and, at least in this instance, illegal.
For more on the intersection between election day and the workplace, see Time off to vote on election day.