• Be Careful When Limiting Personal Use of Company Email Systems
  • March 4, 2015 | Author: Alina Nadir
  • Law Firm: Underberg & Kessler LLP - Rochester Office
  • The NLRB recently overturned previous precedent that provided that employees had no statutory right to use employer provided email for activities covered by Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act. Employer Purple Communications, Inc. provided email accounts for its employees but prohibited employees from using the email system to engage in activities “on behalf of organizations or persons with no professional or business affiliation” with the employer, as well as sending “uninvited” emails of a personal nature.

    The NLRB found Purple Communications, Inc.’s policy interfered with its employees’ Section 7 rights. Section 7 guarantees employees “the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.” The NRLB’s decision means that employees can now use their employer’s email system for nonbusiness purposes, including union organizing.

    Importantly, this ruling only applies to employees who have already been granted access to a company’s email system. Employers do not have to grant access to the company email system. In addition, Section 7 activities can still be banned during work and non-work hours as long as it is part of complete ban on all non-work-related content on the employer’s email system.

    In light of this decision, employers should review their email and electronic device policies and determine if they should institute a complete prohibition on personal use of their company email systems.