film & video
censorship in the workplace
This page considers censorship in the workplace.
It covers -
People often conceptualise censorship as restriction by
government on what can be seen or heard, whether through
constraints on the mass media and advertisers, intervention
in retail distribution or criminalisation of possession
of content (eg child pornography). It is important to
recognise that there is substantial censorship in and
around the workplace.
Some of that censorship is contested. Some is so unremarkable
that it is generally not recognised as censorship. Some
extends into what people reasonably construe as their
private lives. Workplace censorship thus illustrates tensions
evident in other pages of this guide.
It embodies efforts to -
manage the time of employees and maximise productive
use of corporate resources such as institutional computer
networks, eg by -
access to gambling sites, news sites, social
network services such as Facebook
risks to corporate assets, eg by -
access to 'warez' sites and webmail
services or other vectors likely to introduce viruses
to a network
strengthen industrial discipline and even shape the
allegiance of employees, at its most egregious through
of employees for statements made on a private basis
outside the workplace (eg bumper stickers)
prevention of communication by unions
unauthorised release of confidential or other information
a 'harmonious workplace' and minimise liability regarding
sexual harassment, ethnic vilification
or other unwanted speech.
Restrictions are explored in the exploration of workplace
privacy and confidentiality
elsewhere on this site and in the discussion of blog-related
and social network-related
dismissals of employees.
Employees in the US and elsewhere do not have a comprehensive
right to untrammelled communication in the course of their
employment. Some employers have also restricted expression
outside the workplace.
Organisations commonly restrict what their personnel (and
customers) can see, for example by blocking access to
adult content and gambling sites or to services such as
Facebook and interdicting spam addressed to employees.
They may also restrict communication within/from the organisation,
whether to protect assets, minimise exposure to litigation
regarding harassment or inhibit industrial activism among
the binary proletariat.
Changing expectations about the workplace are highlighted
in From Widgets to Digits: Employment Regulation For
The Changing Workplace (Cambridge: Cambridge Uni
Press 2004) by Katherine Stone and other works highlighted
Free Speech studies include Hate Speech & Freedom
of Speech in Australia (Leichhardt: Federation Press
2007) edited by Katherine Gelber & Adrienne Stone,
Bruce Barry's Speechless: The Erosion of Free Expression
in the American Workplace (London: Berrett-Koehler
For regulation of harassment and the 'hostile work environment'
in the US see Daniel Hartstein's 'Collateral Censorship
and First Amendment Theory' in 8 University of Pennsylvania
Journal of Labor and Employment (2006) 765-806, Jack
Balkin's 'Free Speech and Hostile Environments' in 99
Columbia Law Review (1999) 2295-2316, Eugene
Volokh's 'What Speech Does "Hostile Work Environment"
Harassment Law Restrict?' in 85 Georgetown Law Journal
(1997) 627 and 'Freedom of Speech and Workplace Harassment'
in 39 UCLA Law Review (1992) 1791, Vicki Schultz's
'Reconceptualizing Sexual Harassment' in 107 Yale
Law Journal (1998) 1683, Ellen Peirce's 'Reconciling
Sexual Harassment Sanctions and Free Speech Rights in
the Workplace' in 4 Virginia Journal of Social Policy
and the Law (1996) 127-203, David Yamada's 'Voices
From The Cubicle: Protecting and Encouraging Private Employee
Speech in the Post-Industrial Workplace' in Berkeley
Journal of Employment and Labor Law (1998) 1-58 and
Cynthia Estlund's 'Freedom of Expression in the Workplace
and the Problem of Discriminatory Harassment' in 75 Texas
Law Review (1997) 687-774.
Studies of workplace blogging and its consequences (including
dismissal for posts made from or merely about the workplace)
are highlighted here.
They include 'Say What?: Blogging and Employment Law in
Conflict' by Paul Gutman in 27 Columbia Journal of
Law & Arts (2003) 145-185 and 'Fired For Blogging:
Are There Legal Protections For Employees Who Blog?' by
Robert Sprague in 9 University of Pennsylvania Journal
of Labor & Employment (2007) 355-385
next page (prisons)