The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has determined that it is legal for employers to ban the use of cellphones by employees if they do so for safety and security reasons.
Although the Obama-era board had encouraged the use of cellphones in the workplace, the current board earlier this year found that an employer’s policy prohibiting cellphone use by their truck drivers while driving was lawful due to the substantial safety concerns for commercial drivers supporting the policy. The new decision takes that a step further.
The board has struggled to keep up with changes in communications technology that have taken place over the years. According Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), workers have the right to discuss and act on concerns related to wages and working conditions and are legally protected from employer attempts to prevent or retaliate against this kind of speech. However, a lot has changed since the law was enacted in the mid-1930s that the legislators of the day never anticipated.
In regard to the latest NLRB decision, Chad M. Horton, an attorney with the law firm of Shawe Rosenthal, declares that, “This is a good decision for employers. Employers may now prohibit employees from using cellphones in work areas, particularly where the distractions caused by cellphones would pose safety risks or product integrity issues.”