NLRB: Whole Foods’ Prohibition on Recording Conversations, Taking Videos Violates Labor Law

Employers should think twice before adopting any policy that restricts employees from taking their conversations or taking photographs in the workplace.

Whole Food’s policy prohibiting workers from taking photos or recording conversations inside a store “unless prior approval is received” from a manager or executive, or “unless all parties to the conversation give their consent” was a violation of federal labor law, the National Labor Relations Board ruled yesterday.

Ostensibly, Whole Foods put this policy in place for the benefit workers–“to eliminate a chilling effect on the expression of views that may exist when one person is concerned that his or her conversation with another is being secretly recorded.”

In a 2-1 decision, however, an NLRB majority ruled that the policy violated the National Labor Relations Board and had the very chilling effect that Whole Foods claimed it sought to prevent. Such a blanket prohibition, for example, could forbid employees from taking photos that document unsafe working conditions, or recording statements that reveal discrimination.

You can download the ruling in the Whole Foods case from the NLRB’s website.

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