In a recent ruling, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) reversed a 2014 decision that gave employees the presumptive right to use their employer’s email system for non-work-related purposes during nonworking time. In the new decision, the NLRB instead ruled that employers retained the right to restrict employee use of an employer’s email system, so long as it did so on a nondiscriminatory basis. This could have a significant impact on employees’ ability to organize for labor purposes.
The new ruling, Caesars Entertainment dba Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino, the NLRB considered a case where employees were using their employer’s email system when not working to organize for labor purposes. While employers undeniably have a right to control their own property, including their company’s email systems, employees also undeniably have a right under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to communicate for labor organizing. The question is whether the employer’s property right or the employees’ labor rights takes precedence.
Previously, in 2014’s Purple Communications, Inc., the NLRB ruled that an employee who is given access to an employer’s email system has a presumptive right to use that system for labor organizing purposes protected by Section 7 of the NLRA, provided they do not do it during work hours. In the new decision, this was reversed, allowing employers to deny employee access to the email system for labor purposes, provided they do not discriminate in doing so. The only exception to this rule is if there is no other available means for employees to reasonably conduct Section 7 protected activity, but this is a very narrow exception.
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 Steve 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.