Compromise or Crackdown?
When the owners of National Football League teams decided not to ban players league-wide from kneeling in protest during the national anthem, it brought to public attention the notion that even if employers have the legal right to institute such a ban, staying neutral and working things out is the more prudent strategy. According to an expert from outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, while freedom of speech does not extend into the workplace, NFL owners – and employers in general – should be more focused on compromise than cracking down on employees who express and debate their political views.
“It is surprising to many, but the First Amendment does not extend to workers in private companies. The league does have the right to establish rules with consequences,” said Andrew Challenger, a vice president at the firm, in a statement. “Companies sometimes get dragged into political conflicts against their will. They should try to remain neutral and broker a win-win for both sides.”
A Challenger, Gray and Christmas survey around the issue found that 94 percent of respondents have witnessed political discussions in the workplace, with 18.2 percent reporting that those discussions happening often. So this is not an unusual scenario.
In the case of the NFL, there is no rule in place to force players to stand so no official league punishment for players who protest will happen. As of last Sunday, a scattering of players continued to take a knee during the national anthem, without repercussions.