It seems you can’t turn on the news anymore without hearing about a violent incident occurring in the workplace that involves some type of weapon. Many employers have developed policies prohibiting employees and visitors to their facilities from bringing weapons onto company property. It’s unfortunate that employers have to develop policies such as these but it’s becoming the norm rather than the exception.
Most policies prohibiting weapons at work include restrictions on bringing guns onto company property. In general, that would be okay except that Florida has a law that permits employees who have concealed weapons permits to keep guns locked in their cars in any parking lot where they have permission to be. Employers generally cannot:
- Prohibit any employee, customer, or invitee from keeping a legally owned firearm locked inside or locked to a private motor vehicle in a parking lot when the individual is lawfully in such an area.
- Question customers, employees or invitees regarding whether they have weapons in their vehicles;
- Search the vehicle of a customer, employee or invitee for a weapon;
- Refuse to hire an applicant based on whether he or she has a concealed weapons permit;
- Take action against an employee, customer or invitee based on written or verbal statements made by that individual regarding the possession of a gun stored inside a private motor vehicle in a parking lot for lawful purposes.
- Terminate or otherwise discriminate against an employee or expel a customer or invitee “for exercising his or her constitutional right to keep and bear arms or for exercising the right of self defense as long as a firearm is never exhibited on company property for any reason other than lawful defensive purposes.”
The law does not apply to:
- Correctional institutions;
- Nuclear power plants;
- Property upon which substantial activities involving national defense, aerospace, or homeland security are conducted;
- Property upon which the primary business conducted is the manufacture, use, storage, or transportation of combustible or explosive materials regulated under state or federal law, or importing, manufacturing, or dealing in explosive materials;
- A motor vehicle owned, leased, or rented by a public or private employer or the landlord of a public or private employer;
- Property upon which possession of a firearm or other legal product by a customer, employee, or invitee is prohibited pursuant to any federal law, contract with a federal government entity, or general law of Florida.
The entire statute may be viewed at: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0700-0799/0790/Sections/0790.251.html
This doesn’t mean that an employer still can’t have a policy prohibiting weapons…including guns…in the workplace. Employees do not have the right to take their weapons out of their locked cars and bring them into our facilities. An individual with a concealed weapons permit does not have an automatic right to remove that firearm from their locked vehicle for any reason other than self-defense. And further, this statute only applies to firearms. It does not extend a right to bring knives, tasers, bows & arrows, brass knuckles, etc. onto company property at all.
Companies are permitted to implement zero tolerance workplace violence policies and employees who bring weapons onto company property in violation of workplace violence or weapons at work policies may be disciplined up to and including termination for violating such policies.
If you would like to receive a sample Weapons in the Workplace Policy, please contact EAF at 407.260.6556 or [email protected].
Contributed by Christine Crews, SPHR, is Vice President of Human Resource Services for the Employers Association Forum, Inc. (EAF). EAF is a non-profit corporate membership-based association dedicated to serving the business and HR communities with world-class HR tools, hotlines & legal compliance, news & trends, surveys & economic data, benefits & insurance, risk management, training & consulting, and leadership & organizational development. HCCMO members receive discounted rates on all EAF classroom training at EAF’s training center in Longwood. Click here for currently scheduled programs: http://www.eafinc.org/online_store/training/HCCMO/training_programs.pdf.
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