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Gun Rights in The Workplace vs Employer Property Rights

February 23, 2015

States are enacting laws that prohibit employers from banning firearms on their property. Sometimes called “parking lot laws,” these laws pit an employer’s right to control its property and workplace against the right, which is codified in many states, to own and bear firearms.

Some of these laws provide employers with immunity from liability if employees cause harm with firearms while on the property.

Other proposed laws provide no such liability protection. In either case, the extent of employers’ liability and what they should do to minimize it is not clear.

Even with the immunity in some proposed legislation, employers might be subject to a claim based on negligent hiring if an employee were to use a firearm in an incident of workplace violence.

In Bastible v. Weyerhauser Company, the Tenth Circuit addressed the issue of whether the Oklahoma constitution provided a right to bear arms on an employer’s property when the employer has banned employees from bringing firearms onto company property. The court affirmed the lower court’s finding that Oklahoma’s constitution does not provide a right to possess firearms that negates the right of a private property owner to regulate who and what is allowed on the property.

Employers can take steps to reduce potential liability if a parking lot law is enacted in their state. Even in the absence of one of these laws, they will benefit by creating a safer and more efficient workplace and reduced potential for liability.

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