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Speechless

Book Description

A factory worker is fired because her boss disagrees with her political bumper sticker. A stockbroker feels pressure to resign from an employer who disapproves of his off-hours political advocacy. A flight attendant is grounded because her airline doesn't like what she's writing in her personal blog. Is it legal to fire people for speech that makes employers uncomfortable, even if the content has little or nothing to do with their job or workplace? For most American workers, the alarming answer is yes. Speechless takes on the state of free expression in the American workplace, exploring its history, explaining how and why Americans have come to take freedom of speech for granted, and demonstrating how employers can legally punish employees for speaking their minds. Bruce Barry shows how constitutional law erects formidable barriers to free speech in workplaces, while employment law gives employers wide latitude to suppress speech with impunity--even speech that is unrelated to the job or the company. Employers, with rights of property ownership over not just what they manage but how they manage, can decide just how much employee speech they will tolerate. Workers have little choice but to accept conditions of employment or go elsewhere. Barry argues that a toxic combination of law, conventional economic wisdom, and accepted managerial practice has created an American workplace in which freedom of speech--that most crucial of civil liberties in a healthy democracy--is something you do after work, on your own time, and even then (for many), only if your employer approves. Barry proposes changes both to the law and to management practice that would expand employees' expressive rights without jeopardizing the legitimate interests of employers. In defense of freer speech in and around the workplace, Barry argues that a healthy democracy depends in part on the experience of liberty at work. Workplaces are key venues for shared experience and public discourse, so workplace speech rights matter deeply for advancing citizenship, community, and democracy in a free society.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover Page
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright Page
  4. More Advance Praise for Speechless
  5. Introduction: Speechless At Work In America
  6. One: When Work and Speech Collide
    1. FREE SPEECH AND EXPRESSION IN THE WORKPLACE
    2. WHY CARE ABOUT WORKPLACE EXPRESSION? AND WHY NOW?
  7. Two: Constitutional Rights In Public and Private
    1. THE CIVIL RIGHTS CASES
    2. STATE ACTION AND FREE SPEECH
    3. THE CURRENT STATE OF STATE ACTION
  8. Three: Unemployment At Will
    1. A BIT OF HISTORY
    2. EXCEPTIONS
    3. CATEGORY-BASED EXCEPTIONS
    4. IMPLICIT AGREEMENT EXCEPTIONS
    5. PUBLIC-POLICY EXCEPTIONS
    6. EMPLOYMENT AT WILL AND FREE SPEECH
    7. THE FUTURE OF EMPLOYMENT AT WILL
  9. Four: Public Employee Speech
    1. IT CAME FROM MASSACHUSETTS
    2. THE 1950S: LOYALTY, SUBVERSION, AND ASSOCIATION
    3. MR. PICKERING GOES TO WASHINGTON
    4. CONCERN ABOUT PUBLIC CONCERN
    5. LAWYERS NOT IN LOVE
    6. AFTER CONNICK: MORE CONCERN ABOUT PUBLIC CONCERN
    7. PUBLIC CONCERN WITH SEX
    8. WHISTLING IN THE DARK
    9. HATCHING POLITICAL PARTICIPATION
  10. Five: A Chill In the Private Sector
    1. WHEN PRIVATE IS REALLY PUBLIC
    2. WHEN PRIVATE IS PRIVATE, BUT PROTECTED
    3. BEYOND OUR BORDERS
  11. Six: Why Free Speech Works
    1. COLLECTIVISTS
    2. INDIVIDUALISTS
    3. RECONCILIATION
  12. Seven: Civil Rights and Wrongs
    1. ACCOMMODATING EXPRESSION (RELIGIOUS AND OTHERWISE)
    2. FREE SPEECH + HARASSMENT = COLLISION
  13. Eight: Speech In the Digital Age
    1. FLY ME TO THE UNEMPLOYMENT LINE
    2. ADVICE AND CONSENT
    3. YOUTHFUL INDISCRETIONS
    4. PROFESS FOR SUCCESS
    5. THE MAIL EGO
  14. Nine: Managing Expression Inside the Workplace
    1. THINKING ABOUT MANAGEMENT THINKING
    2. SPEAKING IN (CORPORATE) CODE
  15. Conclusion: The Case for Freer Expression
    1. A BALANCING ACT
    2. SOCIETY, CIVIL AND OTHERWISE
    3. FREER SPEECH
  16. Acknowledgments
  17. Notes
  18. Index
  19. About the Author
  20. About Berrett-Koehler Publishers
  21. Be Connected