Given the ubiquity of cell phone cameras, it is not an infrequent experience for relatives visiting patients in hospitals to take pictures of the patients, nurses and others present in the facility. Doctors and nurses have even been known to pose with patients for group photos. In 2007, Flagstaff Medical Center in Flagstaff, Arizona became concerned about the use of cameras in the hospital and banned the “use of cameras for recording videos of patients and/or hospital equipment, properties or facilities.
Meanwhile back at the ranch CWA Local 7019 was engaged in an effort to organize housekeeping and dietary workers at the hospital. The CWA challenged the policy on the basis that it represented a violation of Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act, because employees were prohibited from using portable electronic devices during work time. The Union argued that the ban had a “reasonable tendency” to interfere with the organizing rights of employees under the NLRA.
In a 2 to 1 split opinion the NLRB affirmed the decision of an Administrative Law Judge below that there was no evidence that the ban was related to the effort to organize the employees and that the hospital had a “weighty” concern over the need to protect patient privacy. See 357 NLRB No 65 (8-26-11).