Speechless (Hardcover)

The Erosion of Free Expression in the American Workplace

By Bruce Barry

Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 9781576753972, 287pp.

Publication Date: June 18, 2007



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.

Here, Bruce Barry reveals how employers and courts are eroding workers' ability to express themselves on and off the job--with damaging consequences for individuals, their employers, and civil society as a whole. He explains how the law and accepted management practice stifle free speech on the job, why employers make repressive choices, and what workers can do to protect themselves. And he shows that not only are our rights as employees being diminished, but also our effectiveness as citizens--as participants in the civic conversations that make democracy work.

About the Author

Bruce Barry is Professor of Management and Sociology at Vanderbilt University, where he teaches courses on power and influence in organizations, business and society, negotiation, and the sociology of media and technology. His research on behavior at work, including negotiation, power, and justice, has appeared in many scholarly journals and volumes. He also writes about business ethics, workplace rights, and public policy issues at the intersection of business and society. He is co-author of three books on negotiation that are widely used in courses at universities worldwide.