An intriguing employee rights bill comes before a Tennessee House subcommittee today: HB3263
, a measure designed to prevent employers from forcing political opinions or religious beliefs on their workers. The bill’s essence:
No employer…shall require an employee to attend an employer-sponsored meeting or participate in any mandatory communication with the employer or the employer's agents or representatives, if a purpose of such meeting or mandatory communication is to communicate the employer's opinion about religious or political matters or to attempt to influence the employee's opinions or actions with respect to religious or political matters.
According to the bill, employers cross the line when employees face “an adverse employment action” for failing to listen to, read, participate in or respond to a political or religious message. This piece of legislation would extend needed protection to workers who find themselves pressured by employers to fall in line with company orthodoxy on political and religious matters that are unrelated to job performance—something particularly relevant in an election year when workers are often “invited” to smile and make nice during factory speeches by political candidates. A worker taking action under the measure could sue the employer in civil court for reinstatement, back pay and damages.
The bill, sponsored in the House by Joelton Democrat Gary Moore
and in the Senate by Memphis Democrat Beverly Marrero
, exempts communication about religious matters by religious organizations and institutions. It’s on the House Employee Affairs subcommittee’s calendar