Limits to Freedom of Expression in the American Workplace: Implications and Remedies

31 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2007

See all articles by Bruce Barry

Bruce Barry

Vanderbilt University - Owen Graduate School of Management

Date Written: February 2007

Abstract

A combination of law, conventional economic wisdom, and accepted managerial practice has produced an American workplace where freedom of speech - that most crucial of civil liberties in a healthy democracy - is something individuals undertake after work, on their own time, and even then only if their employers approve. I argue that limits to freedom of expression in and around the workplace diminish not just individual rights as employees, but individual effectiveness as citizens—as-participants in the civic conversations that make democracy work. With workplaces serving as key venues for shared experience and public discourse, workplace speech rights matter for advancing citizenship, community, and democracy in a free society. I comment on the legal status of expression at work in the U.S., develop an argument for freer speech on and off the job, and suggest legal and managerial reforms that would expand workplace freedom of expression.

Keywords: free speech, first amendment, freedom of expression, workplace, democracy

Suggested Citation

Barry, Bruce, Limits to Freedom of Expression in the American Workplace: Implications and Remedies (February 2007). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=962519 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.962519

Bruce Barry (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Owen Graduate School of Management ( email )

Nashville, TN 37203
United States

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