Reversing prior, if contentious, law, the National Labor Relations Board held this week that an employer’s property interest in its e-mail system would allow it to restrict employees from using the system for communications unrelated to their jobs, as long as (a) alternative means are available for employees to communicate effectively with each other concerning the terms and conditions of their employment, and (b) the rules do not discriminate against the exercise of employees’ protected rights to concerted action.

We recognize that there may be some cases in which an employer’s email system furnishes the only reasonable means for employees to communicate with one another. Consistent with the principles stated above, an employer’s property rights may be required to yield in such circumstances to ensure that employees have adequate avenues of communication. Because, in the typical workplace, employees do have adequate avenues of communication that do not infringe on employer property rights in employer-provided equipment, we expect such cases to be rare.

We hold … that an employer does not violate the Act by restricting the nonbusiness use of its IT resources absent proof that employees would otherwise be deprived of any reasonable means of communicating with each other, or proof of discrimination.

Caesars Entertainment d/b/a/ Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino, 368 N.L.R.B. No. 143 (2019) , slip op. at 8. The decision can be found at this link.