In a landmark and not-unexpected ruling, the National Labor Relations Board decided today to require employers to allow their employees to use company email systems for Section 7 (union organizing and protected concerted activity) purposes during nonworking time.  Purple Communications, Inc., 361 NLRB No. 126 (Dec. 11, 2014). The decision overrules the Board’s 2007 Register Guard decision (351 NLRB 1110), in which the NLRB held employers had the right to ban all employee personal use of employer email systems.

The latest ruling does not require employers to grant email access to employees who had not previously been given access. The ruling also allows employers to prove that special circumstances exist for a total ban on such access to maintain production and discipline.

A detailed analysis of the decision and its implications will be forthcoming.