Workplace Political Debate Carries Risks

The first presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is still over a week away. But debates over candidates' strengths and weaknesses are already spilling over into the workplace.

As the line blurs between employees’ work and personal lives, they’re increasingly using their coworkers as sounding boards for their political views and opinions.

John Challenger, CEO of global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas, says companies shouldn’t actively discourage political talk in the workplace. But he warns that there are consequences when debates get out of hand.

“One big risk is that you get rifts between workers, team members, or worse, between a supervisor and one of his or her employees.”

Challenger that can lead to people being passed over for promotions or, in the worst cases, cost workers their jobs. He recommends companies consider setting ground rules for workplace debate to limit the risk of discrimination lawsuits.

Bio photo of Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Business Reporter

Andrew Schneider joined KUHF in January 2011, after more than a decade as a print reporter for The Kiplinger Letter...