As an American citizen, you have the right to cast your vote in an election. To ensure every resident has the opportunity to vote, many states—including Arizona—require employers to provide time off to vote on election days. If an employer refuses to let you vote, he or she can face serious penalties under Arizona law.
Arizona’s Time off for Voting Requirements
Under Arizona Revised Statute 16-402, Arizona employers must grant employees paid time off work to vote if their work schedules would otherwise prevent them from voting. Specifically, employers must grant paid leave for voting if there are less than three hours between the time that polls open or close, and the time an employee starts or ends his or her shift.
Polls in Arizona usually open at 6:00am and close at 7:00pm on election days. Arizona’s time off for voting law typically protects employees who must start work before 9:00am and do not get off of work until after 4:00pm. If your regular schedule grants you a three-hour window to vote, you are not eligible for protection under A.R.S. 16-402.
For example, if you start work at 8:00am and end your shift at 5:00pm, your employer must allow you to come into work at 9:00am or leave work at 4:00pm. If your employer requires you to clock in at 10:00am and leave at 6:00pm, however, you will need to go to the polls before you come to work.
Can an Employer Retaliate Against You for Voting?
You have the right to take time off from work to vote if your normal schedule would prevent you from exercising this civil right. Your employer cannot fire you, reduce your pay or scheduled hours, or take any disciplinary action against you if you take time off to vote.
Employers who penalize employees for taking time to vote or refuse to allow employees to exercise their time-off rights can face serious legal penalties. Preventing employees from exercising their right to vote is a class 2 misdemeanor under Arizona law, which can result in up to four months in jail, a $750 fine, and up to two years of probation.
Employers do hold certain rights under A.R.S. 16-402. Your employer has the right to require that you inform him or her the day before the election if you are planning to take time off work, and he or she can dictate the specific time you can take to go to the polls. Your employer does not have to pay for more than three hours of leave, or allow you to take more than three hours to vote.
Has Your Employer Violated Your Voting Rights?
If you believe your employer unfairly retaliated against you for taking time off work to vote, or refused to grant you time off to vote, you may be able to pursue legal action against him or her. You will need to prove that you qualified for time off under A.R.S. 16-402, you followed the proper protocol to request time off, and that your employer either penalized you or denied your paid leave.
After your employer takes these actions, collect all potential evidence, write down a detailed account of the violation, and speak to an Arizona employment attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer will advise you on how to proceed with your claim, as well as the steps you will need to take to seek justice.