NLRB Finds Workers Have a Right to Use Employers’ Email Systems For Non-business Purposes

On December 11, 2014, in overruling prior precedent, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) held that workers have a right to use their employers’ email systems for non-business purposes.  Specifically, the NLRB stated: “we decide today that employee use of email for statutorily protected communications on nonworking time must presumptively be permitted by employers who have chosen to give employees access to their email systems.”  The case is Purple Communications Inc. and Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO; case numbers 21-CA-095151, 21-RC-091531 and 21-RC-091584.

The majority’s opinion in Purple Communications, which was not without dissent, underscored email’s importance as a way for employees to engage in labor law-protected communications, an importance which has dramatically increased in the recent years.