A recent decision made by the National Labor Relations Board ruled that the board will presume that any employees that have access to their employer’s email system during their work also have a right to use that email to engage in certain protected communications while they are not working.
The decision came about after an employee was retaliated against for using the company’s email to communicate with other coworkers about union action. This new ruling would mean that employees are, in fact, allowed to use company email during breaks or when they are not working for communicating with their peers about the conditions of employment and the exercising of their Section 7 rights.
There are special circumstances in which employers still have the ability to limit the types of communications that their employees engage in via email. For example, they may choose to prohibit adding large attachments or audio/video files, if there is legitimate reason to believe that these large files would interfere with the functionality of the email system.
The new decision also does not prevent these employers from monitoring email and computer systems for “legitimate” management purposes, such as making sure all employees are being productive and to prevent the use of email communications for illegal activities, harassment or anything else that could lead to making the employer liable.
In light of this decision, companies must be sure to review their email policies, clarify to employees that the company still has the right to monitor their email communications and determine the kinds of restrictions that are still necessary to ensure productivity and efficient functioning.
For more information on how this decision could affect you within your company, contact the team of skilled Dallas attorneys at Whistleblower Law for Managers.