“NLRB Upholds Employer’s E-Mail Policy Prohibiting “Non-Job-Related” Solicitations”

On December 16, 2007, a sharply divided National Labor Relations Board ruled that an employer did not violate the National Labor Relations Act (the “NLRA”) by maintaining a policy that prohibits employee use of the employer’s e-mail system for “non-job-related solicitations,” including union solicitations. The Guard Publishing Company d/b/a The Register-Guard and Eugene Newspaper Guild, CWA Local 37194, 351 NLRB No. 70, 12/16/07.

The NLRB ruling addressed for the first time whether, for purposes of the NLRA, e-mail communications by employees using the employer’s e-mail system should be treated in the same way as face-to-face solicitations, or whether they should be treated in the same way as employee communications using other employer-owned communication equipment, such as telephones and bulletin boards. The answer to this question was critical because the NLRB, with court approval, historically has held that employees have no statutory right to use an employer’s equipment or media to engage in union organizing activities – so-called “Section 7” communications, whereas employers must permit employees to engage in face-to-face oral solicitations on non-working time and to distribute literature on non-working time and in nonworking areas.

This Stroock Employment Law Group Special Bulletin looks at this important NLRB decision and its impact on employers.

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