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Can They Do That?: Retaking Our Fundamental Rights in the Workplace Hardcover – December 31, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Maltby, president and founder of the National Workrights Institute, provides chilling insight into personal rights in the workplace and existing laws, which, with rare exception, side with employers. Such liberties as freedom of speech, guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, protect us only from governmental intrusions and do nothing to safeguard us from private enterprise. Maltby relays shocking stories of employer abuses, including tracking employees through cell phone GPS locators, placing hidden cameras in restrooms, and asking potential employees for details on everything from religious beliefs to sex lives. A staggering 20% of employers now require employees to agree before being hired not to go to court if the corporation violates their legal rights. Maltby shows employees how to protect themselves as much as possible under the existing laws and urges them to fight for bringing the Bill of Rights to apply to the private sector. Appendixes provide sample letters to elected representatives and human rights organizations as well as an Employee Bill of Rights. A disturbing and essential exposé that may be a catalyst for change. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Can They Do That? is the question I asked again and again while working in low-wage jobs for my book Nickel and Dimed, and Lewis Maltby is the person I eventually turned to for answers. His new book brilliantly lays out the bitter truth: that the American workplace is a dictatorship where workers have few, if any, rights. Fortunately, it also contains some excellent ideas on how to fight for human rights at work."
-Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed

"Lew Maltby has written a very important book about a subject that has not received nearly the attention it deserves. Congress needs to do more to protect the rights of the American worker. This book can provide a road map."
-Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ)

"Can They Do That? tells Americans the sad truth that their constitutional rights disappear when they go to work and what we must do to end this injustice."
-Nadine Strossen, former president, ACLU; professor of law, New York Law School

"An important book from a tireless champion of workplace human rights."
-Paul S. Miller, former president, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; director, Disability Studies Program, and Henry M. Jackson Professor of Law, University of Washington School of Law

"This is a cogent and compelling look at the issues involved as well as a guide to the principles and practices that would make America more authentically and richly democratic. It should be read and debated by legislators, journalists, academics and the broad public alike."
-Richard S. Parker, president, Americans for Democratic Action "With hard-hitting prose and vivid true-life examples, Lewis Maltby lashes out at employer violations of what most workers assume are their inalienable rights...Existing law doesn't prevent employers from firing employees for expressing a political opinion in a personal blog, spying on them in company restrooms, or refusing to hire them because they failed a defective drug test, credit check, or personality profile."
-Theodore J. St. Antoine, Degan Professor Emeritus of Law and former dean, University of Michigan Law School

"Can They Do That? gives Americans important information they need to know about their rights in the workplace. In clear language, Lewis Maltby unravels the sometimes confusing web of laws and regulations that help shape what happens to employees in America."
-Fred Feinstein, former general counsel, National Labor Relations Board


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover; unknown edition (December 31, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591842824
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591842828
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #292,058 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David Gray on March 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Most people think they have legal rights [in the workplace] that, in fact, are completely nonexistent." This quote from page 217 pretty much sums up why you need to read this book.
While rank and file employees need to know just how powerless they truly are, this should be mandatory reading for anyone interested in labor issues. To give just one example of the great breadth of the information contained here, the history of the concept of "at will" employment is enough to make you cringe. You may think this is some historic concept that came down to us from some anlgo historical precedent... but you would be wrong and amazed by the reality. Maltby does an excellent job of explaining the legal issues in layman's terms and also shows the real and specific impact of the legal situation with true-life examples that are at turns horrifying, enlightening and some that are almost ludicrous if not for the seriousness of the outcomes. Maltby also does an admirable job of explaining issues from both the employee's point of view and the employer's. Though as Director of the National Workrights Institute and a former ACLU attorney his sympathies are clear. But if you ever worked for someone else or ever plan to, you need to read this book. If you are horrified enough to want to take action he tells you how to do that too.
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Format: Hardcover
When letters to the editor, signs on the lawn, bumper stickers, or your blog can get you fired/...democracy suffers when people can't express their thoughts out of fear of retaliation, too say the least of the whistleblowers that were fired for saving lives or attempting to.
There are now millions of people around the world viewing innocent Americans taking off their clothes in locker rooms or going to the bathroom. Privacy has been digitized in the work place, stores, and places you would't want to know about.
The Supreme Court found out that court adminstrators were secretly monitoring the computers of EVERYONE in the federal court system, including themselves, the supremes, and even when they traveled w/their laptops, and even though it was entirely legal by their very own rulings. Of course they put an immediate stop on the the supremes music that was being played. A case of supreme denial in the classic case of: do as I say, not as I do.
If you are logged onto your company computer from your home, your computer is now part of their network and will be searched just like all the others.
These and many other news flashes are just the tip of the iceberg in this superb analysis of the workplace, encompassing an ever widening infuence & confluence of interests and parameters. Even in the hot lingerie business where a company began selling bras with tiny hidden GPS transmitters, probably for men looking for which direction their relationship was going.
Retinal scanning can now reveal whether a person has diabetes, is pregnant, has high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, AIDs, etc.
Identity thieves can now capture biometric identification.
Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
We spend so many hours of our life as employees. This is the first book I've read that has written about complicated issues in such a way that any employee could understand. It contains an abundance of helpful information for employees regarding their legal rights, from the future of genetic testing and how it might affect hiring decisions to the down and dirty on privacy expectations in the workplace. Can employers really put video cameras in bathrooms? A must read for any employee.
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Format: Hardcover
I thought this book is really great and really informative about all the things an employer may do to an employee. What I found interesting and a little shocking was when the employer had cameras in the bathroom. This entire book informs people about abuse an employer may do and how they violate the privacy of others. Overall, this was a great book to read and very informative.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I first picked up this book, I thought that all I'd find was a decent read. After all, from the moment I stepped into high school, I had the concept of workplace corruption drilled into my head. This book, however, has ended up teaching me things that I would've never even thought of, what my teachers have either failed to or have just forgotten to tell me. Of course, we all know the basics. Sexual harassment, bribes, sucking up to the boss in order to get a promotion or a pay raise, so on and so on. However, this book goes into even more detail, and touches upon several subjects that are seemingly glossed in your average lecture. Mr. Maltby pulls up a remarkable amount of information, touching upon things that would normally get brushed under the rug. His colorful writing style, mixed together with how he actually pulls up several real-life examples in each of his chapters, helps pull the reader into the book and offers a frightening glimpse of just how deep this corruption can go.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book, for those who both curious on the subject of corruption in the workplace and even for those who believe that they know everything there is to know about the concept. Mr. Maltby does a commendable job at bringing forth issues that wouldn't have gotten much attention otherwise, and in turns helps the reader open up their eyes and in turn brings up the possibility of a brighter future in the workplace.
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