Labor Board: Workers can use company email for union activity

In a victory for labor groups, the National Labor Relations Board is granting employees the right to use company computers and email accounts to conduct union business.

The decision only applies to employees who have already been given access to the employer’s email system, and a company can ban employees’ use of email for nonwork related business if they can justify that the ban is necessary to maintain production or discipline. 

The NLRB decision reverses a decision the board made in December 2007 in The Register-Guard case, which prevented workers from using their company emails for purposes such as organizing a union or collective bargaining. 

“The workplace is ‘uniquely appropriate’ and ‘the natural gathering place’ for such communications and the use of email as a common form of workplace communication has expanded dramatically in recent years,” the board’s decision said.

“Consistent with the [National Labor Relations] 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.”

NLRB announced Friday that’s its moving forward with a rule that will speed up union elections. 

Michael Lotito, a shareholder and co-chair of Littler’s Workplace Policy Institute, said the NLRB’s recent actions are an “enormous win” for labor groups. 

“Laborers are among the happiest people in the world this holiday season because these are enormously important gifts.”

Tags Email Internet Labor Law National Labor Relations Board United States

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