TSG-HR: The HR Bridge Over Troubled Waters (Employee Activism vs. Your Business)

Every employer is facing a series of issues that has never been seen before. A pandemic that shut down the world, the same event stopping the world’s largest economy and now, civil unrest. If our predecessors thought they had it bad, they hadn’t seen anything.

TSG-HR began this journey by helping over 7,000 business navigate the landscape of COVID-19. As states began to reopen, we helped our them get back on their feet and get their teams back to work, though difficult, until the extra $600 began to run out.

Now we have civil unrest to add to the list.

Let’s step back for a moment and set the field. First and foremost, as a core principal TSG-HR believes in the First Amendment – the right to speak freely. We believe in the ability to assemble peacefully in protest. However, we do not believe that destruction of property, causing injury or bringing harm in any manner, including one’s employer, in the course of conducting a protest is acceptable. This is where we begin.

Recently several clients called asking what can be done with employees that are taking off to protest, then not returning for several days. Other clients have employees wearing apparel supporting their view point and, while on the clock, encouraging others to join them in protest. Still others are using company social media to express their points, of view.

What can be done?

Most owners are afraid to act for fear of a Department of Labor charge or an expensive lawsuit. Just as real. But several stated they are concerned the actions of their team members may bring harm by either side to their businesses or to them personally. This is just scary given the actions of the few. Here is what you can do.


Let’s start by breaking this down to smaller parts.

  • Team members asking to leave then not returning for a few days.

In your employee handbook (you should have a one), the 2 or 3 day “no call no show” policy allows you to terminate employment if they make no attempt to contact you. Key note here: Permission must be granted prior to leaving by an authorized person before the team member leaves. If permission is not granted, they have voluntarily abandoned their job. If the employer wants them back, at minimum they should be disciplined with a written discipline form.

If you have a vacation policy and you want/need that team member back, the team member should be immediately written up and any available vacation or PTO time be used. If no vacation policy is available, then the team member is just written up and time off is without pay.

  • Team members that are wearing apparel that supports their personal view points.

In your handbook there should be a policy addressing appropriate clothing in your workplace. Normally the policy will state that the clothing will be casual/professional and subject to management approval. If you determine the clothing is inappropriate, management has the right to send the team member home without pay to change.

  • Team members expressing their view points and or recruiting others to protest, while on the clock.

While this is normally not a concern, in today’s hypersensitive environment an Owner cannot be caught in the middle of a team member projecting their opinion(s) to others that may not agree and/or can become offended. A true lose-lose situation for the owner.

We strongly encourage all to speak freely as long as it relates to the betterment of the business. Outspoken or expressions of opinion could create hostile work environments for other team members. Matters/opinions outside business operations need to be discussed after hours and on the team members’ own time. A general one-time meeting, with those in attendance signing off, should be done to set minimum expectations.

  • Use of company social media platform to express own opinions.

Using your business platforms to express their personal, ideological or philosophical points, without management authorization is grounds for immediate termination. If your business uses social media, team members must be informed that the platform is for business purposes only. This is done through the handbook.

  • The wearing of company logoed shirts, uniforms etc. to political, social rallies, or protests

Unless approved by a member of management, any unauthorized wearing of company logoed apparel to any political, community and/or social events, if found to cause a negative image toward the company could be grounds for termination. Business owners do not want to see a team member on the local news in their logoed shirt/uniform setting a car on fire, or destroying public or private property.

In these turbulent times, business owners turn to our firm to give them the guidance and assurance they need to navigate the ever changing and very difficult landscape. We hope that this will help you have your bridge over troubled water.


$78,000 per employment code violation is a lot to lose. TSG-HR and TSG Help Desk are your best and cheapest insurance policy. Protect yourself, your company and your team.

  • We are certified HR Advisors, each with a minimum of twelve years’ real life experience. We cover areas which include problem employees, start-ups, RIFS, HR foundations, fraud, unemployment matters, employment code compliance and more.
  • Let TSG Help Desk make your HR concerns a thing of the past.

Visit www.tsg-helpdesk.com or call us toll-free on 866.961.3053 to learn how we can help your business.