Why That NLRB Ruling About Employee’s Using Email is No Big Deal

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By Eric B. Meyer

The National Labor Relations Board says that your employees can use company email to badmouth you and unionize.

Well, here are four reasons why it’s no big deal.

Yes, that’s right — it’s NO BIG DEAL.

Yes, you gots to chill

Hey, if you’re a big employment dork like me, you may have already read a bunch of blog posts, and you may read several more, about how the sky is falling after last week’s National Labor Relations Board decision, in which the NLRB held that employees may use company email to discuss the terms and conditions of employment.

Yes, this decision extends to any workplace — not just unionized workplaces — that is covered by the National Labor Relations Act. And, yes, it may help your employees communicate with one another to form a union (gasp!) or otherwise discuss working conditions, but…

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Seriously, you gots to chill.

This is no game-changer.

Four things to remember

  1. This rule only applies to employee communications on non-work time. So, you don’t have to pay employees to talk trash about the company. If your employees don’t have access to work email, this decision does not require you to give it to them.
  2. Do you really think your employees strictly adhere to your computer-use policy that says that company electronic equipment should be used for business purposes only?
  3. I find it hard to believe that employees who wish to unionize would prefer to use company email as a way to discuss forming a union, versus other equally (or more) effective means (e.g., social media, personal email, text message, phone, face to face) that are far less susceptible to employer interception.
  4. Above all, if you run operate a company that communicates with its employees, value them not just in terms of the dollars you pay, but the respect you give, then unionization will be the furthest thing from their minds.

And if discussions over company email are enough to convince your workforce to unionize, then you deserve to have a union.

This was originally published on Eric B. Meyer’s blog, The Employer Handbook.

You know that scientist in the action movie who has all the right answers if only the government would just pay attention? Eric B. Meyer, Esq. gets companies HR-compliant before the action sequence. Serving clients nationwide, Eric is a Partner at FisherBroyles, LLP, which is the largest full-service, cloud-based law firm in the world, with approximately 210 attorneys in 21 offices nationwide. Eric is also a volunteer EEOC mediator, a paid private mediator, and publisher of The Employer Handbook (www.TheEmployerHandbook.com), which is pretty much the best employment law blog ever. That, and he's been quoted in the British tabloids. #Bucketlist.

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