On Monday, the National Labor Relations Board’s General Counsel filed a brief asking the Board to rule that employees have a protected right to use their employer’s internal e-mail system for union organizing. The Board’s current position is that employers may lawfully maintain a rule prohibiting such use.
According to NLRB General Counsel Richard F. Griffin, himself a longtime lawyer for the International Union of Operating Engineers and director for the AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee, however, that position is based on outdated notions that ignore the realities of the modern workplace: “[E]mployees who use their employer’s electronic communications systems to perform their work have a statutory right to use those systems for Section 7 purposes during nonwork time, absent a showing of special circumstances relating to the employer’s need to maintain production and discipline.”
Since being sworn in as the NLRB’s General Counsel in November 2013, Mr. Griffin has made it clear that part of his agenda is to overturn prior precedent so that employees are free to use company e-mail systems for union organizing activity, as well as other concerted activities.
The General Counsel’s brief can be found here. Workplace Update will bring you new developments in the case, Purple Communications, as they arise.