Keep Your Opinions to Yourself! Determining the limits of employee free speech inside and outside the workplace

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed stark divisions within the workplace and outside of it, as two years of pent-up frustration have driven employees and others into polarized camps on an array of highly charged issues: public health restrictions, vaccination, the Freedom Convoy, and others. Add to this the lingering effects of “cancel culture” and the #MeToo movement, and debates have the potential to spill out into the open, not only on social media, but also directly, in confrontations among employees and between employees and managers. Unions have also found themselves having to take sides, potentially undercutting bargaining unit solidarity and creating challenges for their role as representatives. In this context, what are the limits of employee free speech, both inside and outside of the workplace? Which types of conversations are acceptable, and which should be prohibited?