Voting Leave: Do You Know Your State’s Law?

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Fox Rothschild LLP

It’s October 30th, only four days from Election Day 2020, meaning there’s still time remaining (albeit not very much) to read up on your state’s laws regarding voting leave from work.

Of course, marking Election Day this year as a singular date is somewhat of a misnomer. Due to the pandemic, many states have seen an unprecedent surge and utilization of vote by mail and early voting in various forms, with some states on pace to exceed their total 2016 voter turnout before November 3rd.

A majority of states require employers to provide employees with time off for voting.  In these states, employers are frequently prohibited from taking adverse action or retaliating against employees who exercise their right to take voting leave, with significant penalties for noncompliance.

Importantly, there is no federal law to provide uniform standards or requirements for voting leave. Instead, state law governs this issue.

Employers and employees should review these laws to see how they apply. Some of the questions to consider include:  How much time off must employees be given to vote? Do employees have to verify that they have, in fact, used the time off to vote? Are there small business exceptions? Does voting leave need to be paid ? Can employers coordinate employee voting schedules to minimize business disruption? The answers to these and other questions about voting leave vary widely by state.

With Election Day quickly approaching, employers should review the applicable laws on voting leave in their state(s) of operation, in order to facilitate proper planning and legal compliance.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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