Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Hidden Surveillance Cameras - A Subject of Mandatory Bargaining

The D.C. Circuit affirms a divided NLRB ruling that Budweiser had a duty to bargain with the union over its installation of hidden surveillance cameras. It also was required to provide information about the cameras when requested by the Union which was defending grievances based on disciplinary actions arising from the fruits of the surveillance. Brewers & Maltsters, Local Union No. 6 v. NLRB (D.C. Cir. 7/5/05) [pdf].

After finding evidence that made it believe that employees were using an elevator motor room for non-work and possibly illegal activities, Budweiser installed a surveillance camera for about 6 weeks. The results of the camera were detailed by one of the members of the Court panel:
It discharged five for violating the company's drug use policy (and by all appearances, the drug laws of the state of Missouri and possibly the United States). It entered last-chance agreements with seven employees for leaving assigned work areas for extended periods, sleeping on the job, and urinating on the roof of the brewhouse. It suspended four for leaving assigned work areas for extended periods.
Actions, which that member of the panel found the Board had not surprisingly affirmed. Although he joined the rest of the Court in holding that the company had a duty to bargain and provide information, he dissented from the Court's action of sending the matter back to the Board for "appropriate remedial action."

One problem, regardless of how you view the merits of the decision, Budweiser removed the camera in question on July 1, 1998. Almost seven years to the day, the fate of the employees in question now goes back to the Board, whose decision is of course subject to appeal.

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