A factory worker is fired because her boss dislikes a political bumper sticker on her car.

A stockbroker resigns because his employer frowns on his off-work political activities.

A manager gets the ax after publishing an online essay about homosexuality.

A flight attendant is grounded because her airline disapproves of her personal blog.

Is it legal to fire people for engaging in free speech that makes employers uncomfortable, even if the speech has little or nothing to do with job or workplace? For most American workers, the alarming answer is yes.

Publication: 2007
Berrett–Koehler (Current Affairs)
Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

In Speechless, Bruce Barry brings his expertise as a management scholar and civil libertarian to an in-depth examination of the state of free speech for American workers, both on and off the job.

He critiques a legal system that gives employers wide latitude to suppress worker expression, and argues that freedom of speech in the workplace is excessively and needlessly limited. Barry advocates changes to the law and to management practice that would expand employees' expressive rights without jeopardizing the legitimate interests of employers.

Requiring employees to check fundamental rights at the workplace door, Barry concludes, has a chilling effect on the exercise of those rights both on and off the job, impairing the health of democracy and civil society.

“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 and Nickel and Dimed

“A compelling argument that the trend toward greater restrictions on employee 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

“A must-read for those who care about the vitality of public discourse and the state of civil liberties.”
— Cynthia Estlund, author of Working Together: How Workplace Bonds Strengthen a Diverse Democracy