Today, the National Labor Relations Board held that employees have a right to use their employer’s communications systems – including email – for protected activity during non-working time, unless the employer prohibits all non-business use. In so holding, the Board overruled its 2007 precedent-setting decision on the same issue.
“Consistent with the purposes and policies of the act and our obligation to accommodate the competing rights of employers and employees, we decide today that employee use of email for statutorily protected communications on nonworking time must presumptively be permitted by employers who have chosen to give employees access to their email systems,” Thursday’s decision said.
The wording here is important, and indicative of the division among the NLRB on this issue, as it specifically applies to workers who have been granted access to employer’s email systems, and offers an “out” for companies that ban non-work-related use of email. Of course, most employers permit some non-business use of communications systems, and so this carve-out is a narrow one.
The case is Purple Communications Inc. and Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO; case numbers 21-CA-095151, 21-RC-091531 and 21-RC-091584 at the National Labor Relations Board. Read the entire case history here and view our previous posts on this issue by following the “Related” links below.