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Best Practices: Should You Have a Staff Cell Phone Policy?

The following post was written by Claud L. (Tex) McIver, senior partner for Fisher & Phillips, for our weekly Best Practices series.

Question: I see several of my health club's employees using their personal cell phones way too often during work hours. They're texting, using social media, taking selfies, and who knows what else. How can I legally and appropriately address this ahead of time – that is, during hiring, and once it’s already a problem?


Answer: In the health club industry, employee use of cell phones on the job has become a rampant problem. Instituting and deliberately and consistently enforcing a legally sound company policy is key to addressing this issue.

Employers in the health club industry must understand that, while their workplace may not be "unionized," the many rights, protections, and obligations under the National Labor Relations Act still apply. Therefore, employers must ensure that all policies are consistent with decisions of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and should utilize recent advice memorandums drafted by the General Counsel of the NLRB for guidance on their conduct and policies. Rather than get into too much detail at this point, please consider reviewing a sample policy we have prepared for our clients. We are pleased to forward this without fee as a part of our longstanding relationship with IHRSA. (Contact for that sample policy.)

In addition to a legally sound policy, it is important for employers to ensure that the policy includes verbiage indicating the employee’s continued at-will status, and that the policy is properly understood and acknowledged by all employees. 

Addressing Personal Cell Phone Use During Hiring

After developing a legally sound policy, employers should: 

  • Provide Notice: Provide the policy to all new employees during the on-boarding process.
  • Receive Acknowledgement: Ensure all new employees acknowledge (in writing) that they have received, read, understood, and will comply with the policy.
  • Enforce The Policy Using “ACE”: Enforce the policy Appropriately, Consistently, and Equally. 

Addressing Personal Cell Phone Use After It Is Already a Problem 

  • Provide Notice: A new policy should be issued (if none existed), or a legally sound policy should be reissued and it must be reiterated that the policy will be enforced going forward.
  • Receive Acknowledgement: Ensure all employees acknowledge (in writing) that they have received, read, understood, and will comply with the policy, even if they acknowledged the policy in the past.
  • Enforce The Policy Using “ACE”: Enforce the policy Appropriately, Consistently, and Equally going forward. 

Claud L. (Tex) McIver
Senior Partner
Fisher & Phillips
Atlanta, Georgia


Best Practices features answers from experts from both inside and outside the health club industry to thought-provoking questions on a wide range of topics. If you have a question you'd like answered, submit your question today

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