Labor & Employment

As laws are passed allowing guns in parked cars at work, attorneys advise employers on safety rules

Last year, 375 people were killed in workplace shootings, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics. Those at workplaces where employers allow guns and other weapons were five times as likely to be victims, according to a North Carolina study published in 2005.

Nonetheless, lawmakers throughout the country have enacted new statutes in recent years that require employers to permit workers to keep guns in their parked cars. That has kept lawyers busy, as employers seek advice about how best to comply with legal requirements yet maintain workplace safety, reports the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.).

Creative solutions that some have employed include donning body armor before attending a meeting at which an employee is scheduled to be fired and holding such a meeting so an airport conference room, so that attendees have to pass through airport security screening, attorney Jeffrey Pasek of Cozen O’Connor tells the newspaper. He practices in Philadelphia.

In Illinois, where state legislators were recently required by a federal appeals court decision to develop a concealed-carry law, employer interest in recommended procedures for dealing with workers who may be packing heat is keen. Lawyers at the Chicago office of Ogletree Deakins suggest that clients update workplace anti-violence policies to specifically say what behavior is prohibited. They also advise employers there and in other states to ask staff to report to human resources if they have handgun permits, since they won’t necessarily show up on a background check, says shareholder Tobias E. Schlueter.

Not every employer is worried about guns in the parking lot, however. In Elkhart, Ind., where co-owner Bob Moore serves as president of MOR/ryde International, it’s a given that many of those employed by the vehicle suspension systems maker have firearms, he says. In fact, he does himself. “Some of our best people are really avid sportsmen and they enjoy shooting.”

Nonetheless, the company prohibits firearms in its building and includes “basic legal speak” about threats and violence in its employee rules.

We welcome your comments, but please adhere to our comment policy and the ABA Code of Conduct.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.