A new labor law poster trend could be at hand, with three states creating laws regarding political and religious meetings in the workplace.
These laws have all been passed in recent months and generally bar employers from taking adverse actions against employees who decline to attend employer-sponsored meetings regarding religious or political matters.
The states are:
Political and Religious Meetings Laws: Posting Requirements
As of early October, none of the three posters regarding these laws have been released.
Still, employers with locations in Maine, Minnesota or New York State should keep an eye out for the new labor law posters to maintain compliance with the laws.
These states have proven in recent years to be among the most employee-friendly in terms of legislation. And the passage of these laws regarding political and religious meetings in the workplace — along with the associated labor law posters — could be a harbinger of similar statutes in other jurisdictions.
Regarding the laws themselves, below is a brief rundown of the requirements for employers. All three laws are similar in nature.
Starting with Maine, the state’s law went into effect in September 2023.
The legislation bars employers from taking adverse action against workers because:
- The employee declines to attend or participate in an employer-sponsored meeting, or any portion of such a meeting, that communicates the opinion of the employer about religious or political matters
- The employee declines to receives or listen to a communication from the employer or the agent, representative or designee of the employer, or any portion of such a communication, that communicates the opinion of the employer about religious or political matters
- The employee, or a person acting on behalf of the employee, makes a good faith report, orally or in writing, of a violation or a suspected violation
There are exceptions for religious employers such as churches.
Minnesota’s law went into effect in August 2023.
Employers may not discharge, discipline, or otherwise penalize or threaten to discharge, discipline, or otherwise penalize or take any adverse employment action against an employee:
- Because the employee declines to attend or participate in an employer-sponsored meeting or declines to receive or listen to communications from the employer or the agent, representative, or designee of the employer if the meeting or communication is to communicate the opinion of the employer about religious or political matters
- As a means of inducing an employee to attend or participate in meetings or receive or listen to communications
- Because the employee, or a person acting on behalf of the employee, makes a good-faith report, orally or in writing, of a violation or a suspected violation
Employers can still hold religious or political meetings, but they must make employees aware that attendance is not mandatory.
New York’s law, which was signed by the governor in September 2023 and took effect immediately, also prohibits employers from disciplining employees who opt out of meetings on political and religious matters.
Definitions under the law include:
- “Political matters” – matters relating to elections for political office, political parties, legislation, regulation and the decision to join or support any political party or political, civic, community, fraternal or labor organization
- “Religious matters” – matters relating to religious affiliation and practice and the decision to join or support any religious organization or association
Labor Law Poster Compliance
The new workplace religious and political gathering laws in Maine, Minnesota and New York demonstrate the increasing challenges of maintain labor law poster compliance for multi-jurisdiction employers.
In 2022, there were 358 mandatory posting updates, a number that has grown steadily since 2016, when there were only 148. Also of note, fines for violations of labor law poster compliance can be steep.
In addition to the fines for noncompliance, a lackluster labor law poster program can indicate to government investigators — who may be examining locations regarding a different issue — that a business isn’t taking compliance seriously.
Employers with locations in Maine, Minnesota or New York State should monitor the upcoming release of the new labor law posters related to the respective states’ laws regarding political and religious gatherings in the workplace.
In addition, employers should be aware of workers’ rights regarding religious and political meetings.
This Employment Law News blog is intended for market awareness only, it is not to be used for legal advice or counsel.