The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently issued a ruling that reverses their previous stance on employee’s ability to use an employer’s IT equipment and e-communications system for the purpose of union organizing activity. In the NLRB’s ruling, Caesars Entertainment d/b/a/ Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino, 368 NLRB No. 143, the Board ruled that employers can now restrict their employees use of company e-communication systems (e.g. e-mail, instant messaging, etc.). Despite this ruling it is still imperative for employers to have sound e-communication policies in place and ensure that management is not applying such policies in a discriminatory manner.
Under Federal labor law employees have the right to support or not support union organizing efforts in the workplace, a right that’s know as Section 7 protections. To prevent such activities from becoming a distraction in the workplace most employers have non-solicitation policies in place to prevent the abuse of the Section 7 rights. However, in the 21st Century the proliferation of e-communications in the workplace changed the dynamic in terms of how employees communicated with each other. In essence, e-communications is the new water cooler whereby employees discuss both work-related and non-work-related topics. In response most employers now have e-communication policies in place to address this reality.
Under this new ruling it is important for employers to revisit their e-communications policies and non-solicitation policies to make sure they address what employees can discuss with each other both during work time and non-work time. It’s also just as important to make sure management is not applying such policies in a discriminatory manner. Such inconsistent applications of policy can easily result in an Unfair Labor Practice charge against the employer, if it’s found that the employer violated employees protected concerted rights under Federal labor law.
MPI Consulting has a 40+ year history in assisting employers remain union free and navigate changing employment and labor laws to help them maintain a positive employee environment in the workplace. MPI Consulting works directly with employers or with employer’s General Counsel to manage labor campaigns in partnership with more than 150 law firms across the U.S.