Can You Fire Someone for Having Voted for President Obama?

That was the question a caller, who had read a quote of mine published in an article ( he could not remember which one), recently asked me.

He explained that he owns a business that has over 50 full-time employees.  In order to avoid Obamacare, he has to let some go so he is under the 50 employee threshold.  His question was, Is it legal to fire employees who voted for Obama?   The logic behind the question was, Why should people who voted for Governor Romney lose their jobs when they are in no way responsible for Obamacare?  Supporters of the President should be held responsible for the ramifications of their efforts.

My answer began with the warning that I am not an attorney.  But then I helped him think it through.  First, in New York State it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of “creed.”  Since he is in New York, assuming that “creed” includes political beliefs, it would be illegal to fire supporters of the President.  Additionally, since the foundation of our democracy is the secret ballot, it is probably illegal (again, I’m not an attorney) to force someone to tell you how they voted.

So my response was, it’s not fair, but you can’t do it.