Does Freedom of Speech Exist On the Job?

Anonymous
Does Freedom of Speech Exist On the Job?

Do you have freedom of speech at work? Can you truly say what you want in the office? How about outside of it? After all, isn't it guaranteed under the law that what we say should be protected? Let me just tell you, if you believe this to be true without consequence or restriction, then prepare to be fired.

A few years back I worked for a very public and well known non-profit museum. Public image was everything, after all, in the age of the internet, social media, and television, one bad review, if bad enough, can mean thousands of jobs. Everything we did at the museum and said in a public fashion was so manufactured and rehearsed. Even when it came to who got to appear for performances in front of the media, it wasn't necessarily who was best for the shows, but who "looked good" for camera which believe me, caused a lot of drama as certain people, as you can imagine, felt very offended by this implication.

Over the years, I worked myself up in the ranks to the role of supervisor and then manager. I was handed an upgraded security clearance and a set of golden keys, however, with all these amazing upgrades came a new contract that might as well have had a skull and cross bones on it. It was the introduction to the infamous morality clause.

A moral clause within contracts is used as a means of holding the individual or party(s) to a certain behavioral standard so as not to bring disrepute, contempt or scandal to other individual or party to the contract and their interests. It attempts to preserve a public and private image of such a party to the contract. In essence one party to the contract is purchasing the other party's good name or reputation.

Does Freedom of Speech Exist On the Job?

I was warned about public scandal, and not just at work which would seem obvious, but outside of work as well. Basically what it boiled down to is anything that I did in or out of work that was illegal (duh) or would bring scandal to the company (say if I posted up a nude pic, and that pic was shared, and picked up by the media and the company name brought up), or if I got on my Facebook page and started bad mouthing the company and an employee re-posted it or I called into a radio station on my off time and started talking about the company in a bad way...all of that, meant I'd be fired. Not just fired like, you have time to pack your boxes, but fired like they would give you a call and have them shipped to your house so they could disappear you.

You were monitored on camera everywhere in the building but the bathrooms and stock rooms, and as far as the stock rooms, you needed a key card, so it's not like they didn't know who was in and at what time. The computers at work were monitored. I mean I saw it once with security--I saw how they could pull up your records, and every email and picture and note you ever sent, was right there in your electronic file right down to what I'd asked for for lunch 2 years ago. It was kind of scary to think the power they had. I mean, as management I made it a point to not drink around employees; many a people have gone down after a few drinks telling it like it is. I also did not hang out with any of them for any reason that wasn't very public and very witnessed.

Does Freedom of Speech Exist On the Job?

The thing about freedom of speech is, when you signed that clause you basically did away with that to a large degree. Sure, there is nothing to actually stop you from using freedom of speech to bad mouth the company or in the case of them doing something immoral themselves, to expose them, but you've basically agreed that they really do sort of own your voice in a way. They are paying you to represent them in a positive and respectful manner. You become an agent of the company. No company wants a bad reputation or employees they feel don't support the brand or the company values. It's why on tv, some brands refuse to let certain shows display their brands because they don't believe in what those shows represent and they don't want bad press if people don't like a certain show or character. It's why Jared from Subway, among other glaringly obvious reasons was fired like this! Who wants to think of a pedophile when they order their sandwich?

For all those people who whine about things happening outside of work being off limits, when has that ever been true? You go murder someone on your "off time," you're still going to jail and you're still getting fired. People don't just do drugs at the office---that habit typically starts at home and is brought into the work place with addicts. And if you are the head of a company, one in which there are people literally investing millions in you as in my bosses boss, why would I pay you to stand there and say the company sucks. You don't even need to work at a job with a clause. Most jobs will fire you for certain behaviors in and out of work. You can be fired for making sexist, racist, and homophobic statements, etc. All it takes is one person to report, the fire to spread, and you're out.

Does Freedom of Speech Exist On the Job?
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