This past Monday, National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Richard F. Griffin filed a brief arguing that the Board should overturn a 2007 decision that held that employees do not have a statutory right to use an employer’s email system for union organizing.  In particular, the GC is seeking to overturn the Register Guard decision because it does not account for the realities of the 21st century workplace.

“The board should hold that employees who use their employer’s electronic communications systems to perform their work have a statutory right to use those systems for Section 7 purposes during nonwork time, absent a showing of special circumstances relating to the employer’s need to maintain production and discipline,” the general counsel’s office said.

Interestingly, the National Association of Manufacturers chose to weigh in by filing an amicus brief.  In their brief, NAM contends that the Register Guard ruling makes sense and follows Board precedent.

“It is well established that employers have a basic property right to regulate and restrict employee use of employer-owned property for communications purposes,” the business groups said. “There is no justifiable basis for creating a new ‘right’ of employees to compel their employers to allow use of company email systems for Section 7 purposes.”

We will be watching this case, styled Purple Communications, very closely and will update you as things progress.