Can I ask people if they voted for Trump before hiring them?
November 10, 2016 11:28 AM   Subscribe

Before hiring someone to do one-time tasks (by which I mean things like paying a plumber to fix something, or a painter, or whatever), can I ask them how they voted?

I don't want to support anyone who willingly voted for Trump. If I need to hire someone to do tasks, is it legal for me to ask them if they voted for Trump before hiring them?

In my mind, the conversation would go along the lines of "Hi, I need to hire someone to do X. You have great reviews on Yelp/Angie's List/whatever. However, before we go much further, I need to let you know that I very strongly disapprove of Trump and do not want to hire people who support Trump. This is just my small way of protesting what happened in this election. So, can I ask you whether you voted for Trump in this election?"
posted by Another Sock Puppet to Law & Government (29 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
No, don't do it. Even if it was legal, it's weird to ask.
posted by pando11 at 11:29 AM on November 10, 2016 [32 favorites]


There is no good outcome to this idea, and no way that it will make a meaningful impact. Find another way to channel your anger and desire to make things better.
posted by cosmicbandito at 11:30 AM on November 10, 2016 [21 favorites]


Is this how you want your democracy to work?
posted by warriorqueen at 11:32 AM on November 10, 2016 [116 favorites]


Not only is this weird, it will only confirm the person's bias against non-Trump voters, which will energize them in later elections. Remember what Michelle Obama taught us: When they go low, we go high.
posted by janey47 at 11:33 AM on November 10, 2016 [62 favorites]


Yes, you legally can. Plenty of people in my area will advertise for a Christian handyman or caregiver or whatever. I don't see any difference.
posted by irisclara at 11:35 AM on November 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


It's legal, but, with respect, it's a pointless way to proceed. It may make you feel better for a few minutes, but it won't do anything to make the situation better and will likely make it worse. Better you should DIY whenever possible and then donate the money you would have spent to the ACLU or an organization that helps refugees.
posted by holborne at 11:35 AM on November 10, 2016 [8 favorites]


What state are you in? I think that might be relevant.

Independent contractors are not protected by discrimination / harassment laws, except for race related decisions. I am not a lawyer, but I believe you'd be covered with your script. I would check the state laws, though.

Agree that this might be awkward, but you know what else is awkward? Inviting someone to work in your home if they supported a man who jokes about sexual assault and having to wonder if they also think sexual assault is A-OK.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 11:35 AM on November 10, 2016 [16 favorites]


I have no idea on the legality of discrimination based on political beliefs/votes (even rules for how employers handle this vary state-by-state). But I agree that this is a bad idea. You'll be playing into the view that most Trump supporters have that they are being oppressed.

What you can do though is add searching public donor lists to the research that you do on people before you hire them. If they openly donated to a person/cause you find odious, just don't hire them (but there's no need to tell them why). It's not perfect, because not all donations are public, but it's more reasonable to not want your money to be used to lubricate an evil machine than it is to try to discriminate based on something as small as a vote.
posted by sparklemotion at 11:39 AM on November 10, 2016 [22 favorites]


Are you getting bids from these people? You could bring up politics and see what they say and gauge their political leanings that way. I think there's a way to do this without directly telling or asking them. And I did hire a contractor who blared Limbaugh on job sites and also happened to be a terrible worker. I did regret hiring him.
I have a friend who, during the Bush years, would ask new acquaintances if they voted for Bush's reelection. If they said yes, she would politely say she couldn't be friends with them and end the conversation. This did kind of work out for her in that she made friends more quickly with democrats and she's a very confident person who just did not care if it made anyone angry at her. TBH I thought this was extreme when she told me about it, but I'm considering adapting a form of it now. I'm curious to hear how this works out for you.
posted by areaperson at 11:39 AM on November 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


I 100% googled/facebook stalked my home construction contractor before handing him a large sum of money because I wanted to be sure (as sure as I could) that no amount of that would be passed on to causes which fight against my interests.

if you were hiring them as regular employees I would think decency and workplace protections would suggest you myob.

if this is for one-off or personal services, I think you are well within your rights to want to spend your money where you want.

is there a black service provider you could hire? (would likely eliminate your need to ask)
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 11:41 AM on November 10, 2016 [19 favorites]


[A number of comments deleted; please focus on the "is it legal" aspect folks.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:45 AM on November 10, 2016


You can generally contract with whomever you want for whatever reason you want. That said, the secret ballot exists to preclude just this sort of thing. There may be a larger, more fundamental ideology you wish to pursue here.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:45 AM on November 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


It's certainly legal to not hire any tradesperson you don't want to hire.

I google every single contractor before I hire them. If you do this, and make sure you get the right person, you might find something that makes you not want to hire them. Maybe they're a racist, maybe they voted for Trump, or maybe they just do shitty work. It's worth googling. Always.

You should do this before you call them, or at least before you hire them. You should not tell them why you're not hiring them though.

One thing to keep in mind is these worlds of tradespeople are small. If you tell Jane The Electrician that you're not hiring her because she voted for Trump, she might tell her friend Pete the Plumber not to work for you, and before you know it you're on some sort of trades person black list. This is of course unlikely and hypothetical, but most of these people know a lot of other people. These people are connected and tend to know half the people in town.
posted by bondcliff at 11:47 AM on November 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


In some states, "political affiliation" or "creed" is a discrimination factor, and your asking the question would give them good grounds to claim discrimination if they later don't get the contract. Employment discrimination is a broad field with a lot of prohibited reasons, and you might open yourself up for liability.
posted by corb at 11:52 AM on November 10, 2016


It might *barely* be legal, but it could easily cause some job applicants to file complaints against you for bias.

It's also certainly not ethical.
posted by Dr. Wu at 11:52 AM on November 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


I don't know your local laws but in the cases you mention you're not their employer, and they're not your employee. You're electing to pay (or not) for contract services. I don't think you have any legal issues to worry about.

Ethically, (IMO) this is the equivalent of deciding you're not going to patronize a store that has a Nazi flag hanging in the back room.

Also, from now on whenever someone tut tuts about not "going high" I think of this tweet.
posted by danny the boy at 12:16 PM on November 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


For someone younger or not the owner of a company, it would probably be more ethical to just converse with them, bring up the idea of Mexicans, immigrants, gay people, or feminism, and see if they roll their eyes or start lecturing you. If they seem completely biased and/or lacking in the self control to listen politely, you'll have learned relevant information.

If they do disagree with you, then hiring them is an opportunity for you to show that, while you believe differently, you are an awesome person and the things you believe are sensible.

If they do agree with you, then hiring them is also an opportunity: for you to show by example how to advocate for your beliefs in a positive way.
posted by amtho at 12:19 PM on November 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm going to close this question now, because I think we have our answer about legality. I can also see a lot of comments disappearing in real-time, which means LobsterMitten and/or other mods are at work, which means I've caused them more work than I intended or realized would occur. (Sorry!)

It appears the original idea is very likely to be legal, but inadvisable. The idea of researching before hiring, and especially, focusing on finding POC or women tradespeople, is especially appealing. Not only does it avoid having to ask anything, but it channels money and support in a (likely) positive way. Besides, as someone pointed out in a now-deleted comment, people might lie to me anyway, so in the end, my original idea is basically flawed and won't achieve the hoped-for goals.
posted by Another Sock Puppet at 12:21 PM on November 10, 2016 [24 favorites]


A bit different. I know of someone who, a few years ago when the debate raged here in WA state, always checked the prospective employees against the lists of donors to the various anti-gay-marriage organizations. He isn't gay but he said it was a part of his due diligence and said, according to his legal team, it was absolutely legal.
posted by bz at 12:26 PM on November 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


What definitely is legal is looking at your state's voter registration public information, if your state requires people to claim their party affiliation when they register to vote. It will at least help you weed some people out initially.
posted by cooker girl at 12:45 PM on November 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think the better way of handling this is to use your anger about Trump supporters as a reminder to support people of color, women, and LGBT people. Don't rule people out based on whether they voted for Trump or are politically conservative (though of course you're free not to hire such people if it's apparent that they fall into that camp), but actively pursue people who are worthy of your business.

For example, when I lived in Brooklyn, there was a nearby hardware store which I knew was a black and female-owned family business, and I chose to go there for all my plunger and ook hook needs rather than Home Depot. Find the female plumbers, Muslim house painters, and Mexican-American contractors, and support them.
posted by Sara C. at 12:58 PM on November 10, 2016 [8 favorites]


I know of someone who, a few years ago when the debate raged here in WA state, always checked the prospective employees against the lists of donors to the various anti-gay-marriage organizations. He isn't gay but he said it was a part of his due diligence and said, according to his legal team, it was absolutely legal.

Political donations are also public record. Open Secrets is excellent for this, but the FEC also has a page.
posted by anastasiav at 12:59 PM on November 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


it just struck me that if someone asked me who i voted for before hiring me, i would likely decline any employment offer (unless i was desperate, i guess). might be something to bear in mind.
posted by andrewcooke at 1:18 PM on November 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


However, before we go much further, I need to let you know that I very strongly disapprove of Trump and do not want to hire people who support Trump. This is just my small way of protesting what happened in this election. So, can I ask you whether you voted for Trump in this election?"

A point I am not seeing made (above): Bald faced asking up front while simultaneously signaling what your intent is before they even answer can result in someone going "Oh, of course I did not vote for that rat bastard. No way in hell would I do so!" when they did, in fact, vote for him. And then charging you double or finding a far more expensive thing wrong with your plumbing than is actually wrong with it or otherwise finding some way to crap all over you in ways you might never discover and would be difficult or impossible to prove if you did become suspicious.

If you want to filter potential contractees, this is absolutely not the way to go about it. Some of the suggestions above for determining this more indirectly is far more sensible.
posted by Michele in California at 1:24 PM on November 10, 2016 [8 favorites]


What definitely is legal is looking at your state's voter registration public information, if your state requires people to claim their party affiliation

Love cooker girl, but this is a not-great plan because it would also weed out those of us who are pariahs within our own party for saying hell no to the fascist bastard. So legal, but ineffective.
posted by corb at 1:26 PM on November 10, 2016 [8 favorites]


I was always told (but I am not a lawyer) that discrimination against people of a certain political party is legal. This was a deliberate exclusion in Federal Discrimination laws because the US gov wanted to be able to discriminate against communists (or members of the Communist Party).
posted by unexpected at 1:43 PM on November 10, 2016


As mentioned, asking who they voted for isn't likely to be effective. A better approach is to talk about issues likely to identify their stance: the hassle so many immigrants have with keeping track of multiple 1099 forms, "I have a friend who works for Planned Parenthood in another state, and is worried about their job," you heard about a new Muslim book club meetup, you saw awesome tumblr pictures of a charming gay couple and their dog in matching tuxedos.

A worker who voted Republican this year could let those pass with, "well, that seems interesting." But it's more likely that they'll let you know they disapprove, even if it's with a polite "the immigrants are taking jobs away from me" or "I wouldn't be interested in a book club that's not even in English." (I am aware that a Muslim book club could be entirely in English.)That's an opening to discuss a bit more and find out where they actually stand on the issues.

If the contact is entirely through email, it's a bit more difficult to bring up topics as chit-chat, but there you have the option of throwing in a signature that hits some of the buzzwords: "Feminism is the radical notion that women are people" or "Black lives matter" are both likely to result in a deplorable just not answering the email contact.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 3:46 PM on November 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm a registered Republican specifically because I saw this man gaining ground and changed my registration to try to defeat him at the primary stage (it didn't work, but that's what I did). I think if you want to know who voted for him, you'll need to ask. And whether it's legal to discriminate based on the answer may depend on your state and local laws.
posted by decathecting at 7:21 PM on November 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


I saw a contractor with a Trump sticker on his van. I live in a very blue state. I think it can be as easy as looking at their car or hat.
posted by ignignokt at 8:53 PM on November 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


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