NLRB Provides Employee Access to Employer Email Systems

The National Labor Relations Board ("NLRB") has overruled its previous ruling, now holding that employees may use their employer’s email systems during non-work hours in furtherance of their rights under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act to discuss wages, hours and other terms and conditions of employment. The NLRB explained that there is a presumption that employee use of the employer’s email system for Section 7 protected activities during non-working time is permitted. However, the NLRB carefully limited its holding and found this presumption only applies to employees who have already been granted access to the employer’s email system — the decision does not require that an employer provide email access to all employees. Further, the presumption does not apply to any other form of electronic communication. An employer may rebut the presumption by establishing special circumstances that make such email access inappropriate. The NLRB’s opinion also does not prevent an employer from monitoring its computer system.

Remember, this decision applies to most private sector employers, not just those with a unionized workforce. Employers should review their email policies to ensure compliance with the new NLRB decision.

NLRB Implements Ambush Election Rules

On Dec. 12, 2014, the NLRB approved amendments to the NLRB’s rules and regulations governing union elections, which go into effect on April 14, 2015. An election occurs when a union desires to represent a group of employees and believes that a majority of the employees in the group want the union’s representation. The new rules substantially shorten the period between the date a representation petition is filed with the NLRB and the date the election will be held. Because of this, the final rules have been dubbed “quickie” or “ambush” elections rules. Under the new rules, most disputes over voter eligibility and bargaining unit inclusion/exclusion will be resolved after the election. The NLRB’s new rules emphasize the importance of advanced employer preparation. Employers cannot reasonably wait until a petition is filed to determine the appropriate course of action and develop campaign messages. Currently, a number of organizations have filed suits challenging the NLRB’s rule. For more information and to read the final rule, click here.