Limits to Freedom of Expression in the American Workplace: Implications and Remedies
31 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2007
Date Written: February 2007
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 citizensas-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
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