Civil Liberties: Free Speech in the Workplace

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Civil liberties: Free speech in the workplace Most Americans pride themselves on the fact that they live in a modern, Westernized, capitalist democracy. However, there is a profound irony in this assumption given the extent to which employers can easily reign in the freedom of speech of their employees in the workplace. While all of us have been aware at some point that our freedom of speech may have been constrained as an employee when we are forced to greet customers in a certain manner, the extent to which civil liberties are stripped from employees once they enter an agreement with their employer may be surprising to some, troubling to all. "In America you can say pretty much whatever you want, wherever you want to say it. Unless, that is, you're at work. Simply put, there is no First Amendment right to 'free speech' in the workplace" (Duglow 2012). An excellent example of this is email in the workplace. There is no expectation, except under certain very specific circumstances, to workplace privacy regarding email. "If an electronic mail (e-mail) system is used at a company, the employer owns it and is allowed to review its contents. Messages sent within the company as well as those that are sent from your terminal to another company or from another company to you can be subject to monitoring by your employer" (Fact Sheet 7, 2013, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse). The only exceptions to this rule can occur if the employee is using his or her own email account with
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