Foreword: What We Talk About When We Talk About Workplace Privacy

22 Pages Posted: 18 May 2006


This essay introduces a symposium on workplace privacy held at Louisiana State University in February 2006. It builds on new work contributed by Matthew Finkin, Catherine Fisk, Rafael Gely & Leonard Bierman, Steven Willborn, Pauline Kim, Charles Craver, and Michael Selmi. Invoking concepts familiar from the torts side of employment law - including dignity and dignitary entitlements, remedies for wrongful discharge, and contrasts between individual- and group-based enforcement of rights and interests - the essay contends that although workplace privacy has never been robust in statutory or judge-made law, it is central to the legal concept of privacy more generally. In its role of enhancing how Americans understand intrusion, humiliation, and the betrayal of justified expectations, workplace privacy may prove strong enough to undo - or at least gravely weaken - the doctrine of employment at will. Workplace privacy may also be tackling some of the problems that private-sector labor unions once were more able to address.

Keywords: privacy, employment law, workplace dignity, employment at will, unions, labor

Suggested Citation

Bernstein, Anita, Foreword: What We Talk About When We Talk About Workplace Privacy. Louisiana Law Review, Vol. 66, 2006, Emory Public Law Research Paper No. 06-12, NYLS Legal Studies Research Paper No. 05/06-28, Available at SSRN:

Anita Bernstein (Contact Author)

Brooklyn Law School ( email )

250 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
United States
718-780-7934 (Phone)

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