Work and politics: What rights do employees have?

By: Charisse Jones and Michael Izzo, USA Today and Daily Records, May 16, 2017.

Should your politics outside of work affect your status in the office?

A congressman’s letter that helped push a New Jersey attorney to resign after her boss was told she was a grassroots “ringleader,’’ has sparked questions about how much an employer can clamp down on an employee’s activism.

The Office of Congressional Ethics has been asked to investigate whether U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-New Jersey) interfered with the workplace standing of Saily Avelenda, a former senior vice president at Lakeland Bank, when he called out her political activities in a letter to a member of the bank’s board.


There could be repercussions for the congressman. The Campaign for Accountability, which calls itself a non-partisan, watchdog organization. filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics against Frelinghuysen.

“The House ethics committee requires members to act in a way that ‘reflects creditably on the House,’” Campaign for Accountability Executive Director Daniel Stevens said. “If trying to get someone fired for exercising her constitutional right to engage in political activity doesn’t reflect poorly on the House, what does?”

The complaint asks the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate whether Frelinghuysen interfered with Avelenda’s standing at her workplace, whether he misused his office for the prospect of political gain, and whether he violated the rule requiring members to act in a manner that reflects creditably on the House of Representatives.

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