In a decision dated December 24, 2015 the NLRB ruled that the Respondent Whole Foods Market Group, Inc. violated Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act by maintaining rules in its General Information Guide (GIG) prohibiting recording in the workplace without prior management approval.

The employer offered examples of types of meetings held in its workplace that routinely involved discussion of sensitive employee or confidential business information.  The company explained that the recording restrictions were necessary to protect uninhibited communication in these contexts.

The NLRB rejected this explanation, concluding that it was not sufficiently compelling to justify policies that could be reasonably seen as prohibiting protected concerted conduct (such as documenting and publicizing the terms and conditions of employment). The NLRB distinguished this case from one involving a hospital that prohibited employees’ use of cameras in an effort to protect patient privacy.  Because of the strong privacy concerns inherent in patient care, the NLRB previously upheld a recording restriction in this context.  See the NLRB case here.

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