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Employment Law Alert: NLRB To Hear Oral Argument On Whether Employees Have Right To Use Their Employer’s Computer-Based Communications Systems For Protected Concerted Activities Plan

On January 10, the NLRB announced that it will hear oral argument in a case that raises the issue of whether employees may use their employer’s communications systems (e-mail, web pages, etc.) to advance union organizing efforts and engage in other protected concerted activities. The oral argument is scheduled for March 27. The underlying case involves an unfair labor practice charge filed by the Communications Workers of America, Local 37194, which represents approximately 150 reporters, photographers, copy editors, secretaries, clerks, advertising department employees, and district managers employed by The Register Guard, a Eugene, Oregon newspaper. The employees are challenging a policy prohibiting the use of the newspaper’s e-mail system “to solicit or proselytize for commercial ventures, religious or political causes, outside organizations, or other non-job-related solicitations.”

Bottom Line

The NLRB rarely holds oral arguments in cases. Obviously, this is an important case for any employer that maintains in-house e-mail and other communications systems to which employees have access -- which, these days, includes most employers. We will keep you informed of further developments in this case as they become available.

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