Guns in the Workplace

Reports of gun violence are dominating the headlines. What is HR’s responsibility regarding employees carrying guns in the workplace? The trick is to have a policy in place that protects your employees, but does not violate an individual’s right to carry a weapon.

The federal government doesn’t have a general law prohibiting guns in the workplace, but it does have laws banning weapon carry in regards to certain establishments. These establishments include schools, daycare centers, detention centers & prisons, oil and chemical plants, and other institutions where federal or state law prohibits guns, such as military bases and government buildings.

Most states have enacted laws that permit employees to possess guns while at work. State regulations range from weapon permits, parking lots, search & seizure and discrimination, to litigation avenues for both employers and employees.

So, what should HR consider when developing a weapons policy? First, make sure you know whether or not your company is one that can deny individuals to carry weapons on their property. Carrying weapons on company property doesn’t mean that guns are permitted inside the workplace. Companies can prohibit individuals from carrying guns into their building, but, depending on state law, cannot deny them the right to keep a gun in their personal vehicle in the company parking lot. However, some states do allow companies to ban guns in areas of their parking lot that may be restricted. Companies can also deny guns in company vehicles.

What employers should do…
Create or modify your weapons policy or workplace violence policy to ensure you do not prohibit the possession of a firearm on company property. Your policy should include language to address the following…

  • Firearms are prohibited on your property except as provided by law.
  • Firearms should be kept in a locked vehicle and only removed as authorized by law enforcement.
  • Employees must have a valid concealed weapon permit in order to have the firearm on your property.
  • Review your policy with all employees.
  • Provide training on your policy to managers and supervisors.
  • Have a zero tolerance clause stating employees removing a firearm from their personal vehicle may be disciplined up to and including termination.

What employers cannot do…

  • Deny an employee with a firearm entrance to or parking on company property as long as they lock their vehicle (unless prohibited by law).
  • Inquire if an employee has a firearm in their private vehicle.
  • Search an employee’s vehicle.
  • Take action against an employee based on a third-party observation or statement.
  • Retaliate, discriminate or terminate an employee for possession of a legally permitted firearm unless they violate your weapons or workplace violence policy.

What are the guns laws in your state? Check out the below links to see what regulation applies to you.

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