On August 1, 2018 the National Labor Relations Board invited interested parties to file briefs on whether the Board should adhere to, modify, or overrule Purple Communications – a case (decided by the Obama Board) that held employees who had been given access to their employer’s email system for work-related purposes have a presumptive right to use that system, on non-working time, for communications protected by Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (union organizing activity). Purple Communications overruled the 2007 Register-Guard case which had held, recognizing the private property interests of employers, that employers could have rules regarding email use that could prevent employees from using the email system for union-related and organizing purposes.
While Purple Communications and Register-Guard addressed email systems, the Board is also inviting comment on the standards that should apply to evaluate policies governing the use of employer-owned computer resources other than email. Any briefs must be submitted on or before September 5, 2018. Board Members Pearce and McFerran (pro-union) dissented from the majority decision to invite briefing to reconsider Purple Communications.
Note: The Zinser Law Firm, P.C. represented the Register-Guard in the 2007 landmark email decision.