NLRB Upholds Employee Cell Phone Ban

Many employers have attempted to initiate rules against employee cell phone use during work hours to curtail texting, using social media, or browsing the internet. Given the importance of the devices in most peoples’ day-to-day lives, courts have generally frowned upon broad bans on cell phone use. However, in at least one narrow case, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has been willing to approve an employee cell phone ban.

The case before the NLRB involved a construction company that operates 300 concrete trucks as part of its business.  The company instituted a ban on vehicle operators having cell phones in the cab of any commercial or heavy equipment vehicle, which included the concrete trucks. The company fired an employee found to have a phone in the cab of a concrete truck, and his union sued alleging that the rule against cell phones violated the National Labor Relations Act.

In a rare exception to its otherwise hostile stance towards blanket cell phone bans, the NLRB ruled the employer’s policy against cell phones was legal. The reason given was that the use of a cell phone while driving a truck is potentially hazardous, with distracted driving carrying a risk of injury to the driver or to pedestrians in the path of the truck. Thus, while such a blanket ban would normally be inappropriate, the NLRB found that such a measure was reasonable and legal under the circumstances.

If you are looking into unionizing, or you already have a union and are in a dispute with your employer, give the Law Offices of Steven Sack a call. Steven Mitchell Sack, the Employee’s Lawyer, is a New York employment lawyer who has considerable experience in handling the many aspects of labor and employment law. To schedule a consultation with New York City employment lawyer Steve Mitchell Sack, call (917) 371-8000.

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