Employers in the US can ban use of company e-mail for unofficial exchanges

The NLRB has revoked its 2014 ruling, which gave employees the right to use company IT resources and e-mail system for non-work related conversations.


The National Labour Relations Board (NLRB) has ruled that by preventing use of the official e-mail system by employees for unofficial exchanges, an employer does not violate employees’ rights under the National Labour Relations Act.

A ruling, which took place in 2014, under the Obama administration, gave more freedom to employees to use official IT resources.

However, the Board has ruled in favour of Ceasers Entertainment, which has laid down in its rule book that “… employers have the right to control the use of their equipment, including their e-mail and other IT systems, and they may lawfully exercise that right to restrict the uses to which those systems are put, provided that in doing so, they do not discriminate against activities protected by Section 7 of the National Labour Relations Act, such as discussing wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment.”

This means, employers can ban the use of company’s e-mailing system for unionising or any form unofficial activity or conversation if they so wish.

The companies had argued that free e-mail access can lead to workplace disruptions and raise cybersecurity issues.

Therefore, this ruling will give a lot of relief to organisations, such as Google where employee activism and unionisation have been a major issue in the last two years.

The National Labour Relations Board is an independent agency of the federal government of the US with responsibilities for enforcing US Labour Law in relation to collective bargaining and unfair labour practices.

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