Captive-Audience Doctrine Law and Legal Definition

Captive-audience doctrine refers to a legal principle prohibiting a person from making intrusive speech. It is also known as the captive-audience rule. The rule is recognized under both constitutional law and labor law. Under labor law, the rule prohibits a party to a union election from making a speech on company time to a mass assembly of employees within 24 hours of an election.

However, the captive-audience doctrine does not apply when the unwilling audience is located on a public street or sidewalk because they can avoid the unwanted message simply by walking away or averting their eyes. The captive-audience doctrine can be used outside the residential setting when the degree of captivity makes it impractical for the unwilling viewer or auditor to avoid exposure. [Sabelko v. City of Phoenix, 846 F. Supp. 810, 825 (D. Ariz. 1994)].