NLRB Eyeing Employee Electronic Surveillance
The National Labor Relations Board’s general counsel wants to limit electronic surveillance of employees.
It comes as an increasing number of employers have adopted the use of technologies to monitor the productivity of employees.
But general counsel Jennifer Abruzzo said the practice raises concerns under the National Labor Relations Act.
Abruzzo asked the NLRB to adopt a broader approach when determining whether an employer monitoring an employee through electronic means is lawful.
In a memo to NLRB field offices, Abruzzo specifically points to concerns about employers using technology to monitor employees in response to union or other protected activity.
“It concerns me that employers could use these technologies to interfere with the exercise of Section 7 rights under the National Labor Relations Act by significantly impairing or negating employees’ ability to engage in protected activity—and to keep that activity confidential from their employer,” Abruzzo said.
Abruzzo urged the board to weigh an employer’s business needs against its employees’ needs.
She said an employer must establish that the surveillance technology and management practice is a “legitimate business need.”
She added that employers must be transparent about what technologies they are using and why.
While it is unclear how this message will translate to enforcement officials, employers are encouraged to assess employee monitoring practices.
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