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The Cringing and the Craven: Freedom of Expression in, Around, and Beyond the Workplace

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 January 2015


Work is a place where many adults devote significant portions of their waking lives, but it is also a place where civil liberties, including freedom of speech, are significantly constrained. I examine the regulation and control of expressive activity in and around the workplace from legal, managerial, and ethical perspectives. The focus of this article is on workplace freedom of expression: the ability to engage in acts of expression at or away from the workplace, on subjects related or unrelated to the workplace, free from the threat of discipline or discharge. I present a taxonomy of workplace-relevant acts of expression, describe the present legal status of workplace expression, review and integrate theoretical perspectives on free speech, drawn mainly from legal theory and philosophy, and critically assess the state of freedom of expression in the workplace, arguing that it is excessively and unnecessarily limited in both law and management practice.

Copyright © Business Ethics Quarterly 2007

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