03 March 2013


Given my interest in workplace privacy I was delighted to see Void Where Prohibited: Rest Breaks and the Right to Urinate on Company Time (Cornell University Press, 1998) by Marc Linder & Ingrid Nygaard, a 265 page work now available through the HathiTrust.

Linder & Nygard comment that
 Fashionable theories of post-industrialism and post-Fordism have blinded many to the uncomfortable reality of working conditions in the United States that are more evocative of the accounts drawn by Engels and Dickens than of the imagined anodyne workplace of the 21st century This book focuses on the persistence of one such aspect of industrial life - the lack of a universal entitlement to withdraw from the inexorable flow of production in order to rest and void during the workday. Although federal and state law requires employers to provide toilets, incredibly, government agencies do not require employers to permit workers to use them. In placing this regulatory breakdown in the broader context of the history of capital-labor struggles over rest periods, the book focuses on the physiological consequences for workers who are prohibited from interrupting work to rest or urinate.