Unions: NLRB Says Employers Can Restrict Use of Company Email for Union Purposes

In an important development, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has ruled 3-2 that an employer didn’t violate federal labor relations law by maintaining a policy that barred employees from using the employer’s email system for union activities and other non-job-related solicitations.

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The case involved a “communications systems policy” maintained by unionized Guard Publishing Co. in Eugene, Oregon. The policy prohibited employees from using email for “non-job-related solicitations.” When an employee who also happened to be the union president was disciplined for sending emails to bargaining unit employees, the union took the case to the NLRB, complaining that the policy and discipline violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) prohibitions against employer interference with union activity and discrimination based on union activity.

In good news for employers, the NLRB has now ruled that Guard Publishing’s policy didn’t violate the NLRA. That’s because employers have basic property rights to regulate and restrict the use of company property, including an email system. We’ll have full details on this decision in an upcoming issue of the California Employer Advisor.

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