Speechless: The Erosion of Free Expression in the American Workplace

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9781576753972: Speechless: The Erosion of Free Expression in the American Workplace

A factory worker is fired because her boss dislikes the political bumper sticker on her car in the parking lot. Another is canned after refusing to display an American flag at his workstation. 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 expressing themselves, even when it's unrelated to performing their jobs? Can you lose your job because of a bumper sticker? For many American workers, the answer is yes. In ""Speechless,"" Bruce Barry confronts the state of free speech in the American workplace. He shows how employers and courts are eroding workers' abilities to express themselves on and off the job, with damaging consequences for individuals, their employers, and civil society as a whole. In defense of free speech in and around the workplace, Barry argues that the experience of liberty in a free society, as well as in life, in general, depends in part on the experience of liberty at work.

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From the Publisher:

PRAISE FOR SPEECHLESS

"Attention: No more loose talk about American `democracy' until you've read Speechless! Bruce Barry exposes the shameful fact that most Americans are forced to check their civil liberties - and especially their freedom of speech - at the workplace door. I'm hoping this important book will inspire a new civil rights movement - this time for American workers of all collar colors."
-- Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream and Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America

"Bruce Barry's Speechless provides a thoughtful analysis of the intersection of employment and free expression. Barry makes a compelling argument that the trend toward greater restrictions on employees' speech has implications that reach beyond the office walls and jeopardizes the well-being of our democracy."
-- Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union

"Americans think they have freedom of speech all the time. Bruce Barry's important new book tell them they are wrong. Barry explains how we lose our freedom of speech every day when we go to work. This is a must read for anyone who cares about free speech."
-- Lewis Maltby, President of the National Workrights Institute

"Bruce Barry has written a comprehensive and thoughtful overview of the sadly impoverished state of freedom of speech for workers, public and private, in American society. It is a must-read for those who care about the vitality of public discourse, the state of civil liberties, corporate compliance with law, or the intelligent management of a modern workforce."
-- Cynthia Estlund, author of Working Together, Catherine A. Rein Professor of Law at New York University

"A generation of Americans growing up in the age of networking, blogging, and instant messaging will be surprised to learn they park most of their rights to free speech, expression, and association at the door of their workplace. Professor Barry's thorough analysis demonstrates how out of touch this is with our democratic values and suggests reforms that would allow us to be both good citizens and loyal, productive workers. He makes a good case for getting on with this long overdue task. A very good book."
-- Thomas A. Kochan, author of Restoring the American Dream, George M. Bunker Professor of Management and Co-Director, MIT Workplace Center

About the Author:

Professor of Management and Sociology at Vanderbilt University. His research on negotiation, influence, power, and justice has appeared in numerous scholarly journals and volumes. Professor Barry is a past-president of the International Association for Conflict Management (2002-2003), and a past chair of the Academy of Management Conflict Management Division.

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