PURPLE COMMUNICATIONS AND COMMUNICATIONS WORKERS OF AMERICA
Agency: National Labor Relations Board
Whether employees have a statutory right to use employers' email systems for Section 7 activities (organizing and representation). The NLRB has requested amicus briefs on several questions, including whether it should overrule Register Guard, a case in which the NLRB determined that employees do not have the statutory right to use employers' communications systems for organizing purposes.
RLC filed a brief with the National Labor Relations Board arguing that Register Guard is consistent with NLRB precedential decisions and should not be overruled because email should be treated like other employer communications systems, which the NLRB has consistently held that employees do not have a statutory right to use. Overruling Register Guard and requiring employers to accommodate employees' Section 7 speech on employers' email systems would infringe upon employers' First Amendment rights.
The Board held that employee use of email for statutorily protected communications on nonworking time must be permitted by employers who have chosen to give employees access to their email systems. Register Guard is overruled to the extent that it holds that employees can have no statutory right to use their employer's email systems for Section 7 purposes.
Limitations: The decision only applies to employees who have already been granted access to the employer's email system in the course of their work and does not require employers to provide such access. Further, an employer may justify a total ban on nonwork use of email, including Section 7 use on nonworking time, by demonstrating that special circumstances make the ban necessary.
Procedural History and Case Documents: