Recent technological advances have dramatically expanded employers’ ability to electronically monitor and manage employees within the workplace. New technologies, including tools powered by artificial intelligence, are being used in the workplace for a wide range of purposes such as measuring employee work rates, preventing theft, and monitoring drivers with GPS tracking devices. These technologies offer potential solutions for many companies that may increase efficiencies and support operations, dramatically reduce human bias, prevent discrimination and harassment, and improve worker health and safety. Despite these potential benefits, the use of these technologies may raise concerns under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the federal law that protects employees who engage in concerted activities for purposes of mutual aid or protection, if the tools interfere, impair, or negate employees’ ability to engage in protected activity.
This Article examines the interaction between new workplace technologies and the NLRA. It begins by exploring the widespread uses of these technologies for monitoring and surveilling employees. Against this backdrop, the Article then discusses how recent activity by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal agency that enforces the NLRA, portends significant implications for both unionized and non-unionized workplaces. More specifically, this Article criticizes a recent regulatory framework that was proposed by the NLRB’s General Counsel in 2022. Finally, this Article provides other positive suggestions to help ensure compliance with the NLRA.
Bradford J. Kelley,
All Along the New Watchtower: Artificial Intelligence, Workplace Monitoring, Automation, and the National Labor Relations Act,
107 Marq. L. Rev. 195
Available at: https://scholarship.law.marquette.edu/mulr/vol107/iss1/6