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A judge with the National Labor Relations board recently upheld Whole Foods' ban on recording employees at work. What can employers learn from the ruling?
The case centered on the issue of whether an employer's ban on recording conversations in the workplace violates the National Labor Relations Act.
If you don't already have a workplace recording policy, you might want to consider drafting one that clarifies your position.
Whole Foods' Recording Ban
Whole Foods Market enacted a company policy that made it a violation to record conversations in the workplace -- including parking lots and the store front -- with a tape recorder or other recording device. The goal of the policy was to "prevent a chilling effect" on "spontaneous and honest dialogue, especially when sensitive or confidential matters are being discussed."
Administrative law judge Steven Davis concluded that this policy did not violate the rights of Whole Foods employees to engage in protected concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act because:
Davis specifically rejected arguments that Whole Foods' policy prevents an employee from recording conversations related to protected activities -- such as allegedly unlawful statements made by a supervisor, which could be used in an action for employment-related matters.
Instead, Davis explained, employees can take notes of conversations, obtain information through legal discovery, or simply ask for permission to record.
Steps Employers Should Take
If you have a workplace recording policy, keep the following tips in mind:
For more tips, you may want to consult an experienced labor law attorney.
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