When dealing with guns in the workplace, it’s important for an employer to find a balance between allowing their employees to exercise Second Amendment rights and an employer’s ability to create a safe, productive and violence/crime free workplace for everyone. Employees should acknowledge their employees might be owners of all types of guns, including individuals who are registered as legal concealed firearm carriers. Follow the guidelines and advice below when allowing your trusted employees to carry a concealed firearm to work while keeping everyone in the company safe.
Familiarize yourself with specific state gun laws
Since there are no federal laws regarding guns in the workplace, every employer must familiarize themselves with their state’s gun laws. In addition, many states have passed specific laws regarding an employee’s Second Amendment rights as well as safety throughout the workplace. These laws deal with concealed carry, signage requirements and how an employer can ensure a safe workplace for their employees. Ensure your HR department is briefed on all state gun laws that apply, as well as your company’s gun and violence policy, preparing them to potentially deal with employees on a case-by-case basis.
Be explicit in your employee handbook
Since this handbook includes all the regulations your employees will be held accountable for, be very explicit in regards to workplace gun protocol. Include any specific policies regarding concealed carry and firearms. When drafting your gun policy, make employee safety a priority, preventing any potential violence or discrimination issues as well. In conjunction with the gun policy, implement a workplace violence policy that covers all acts of violence, including physical harassment and verbal abuse, emphasizing how any potential threats or violent acts should be reported immediately. Both policies should also include disciplinary procedures your employees should expect you to follow if they were to violate either policy.
Post clear signage
In several states, an employer must post clear signage throughout the area to designate the workplace “gun free.” These signs must be conspicuous, clear and easy to understand, large enough to read in plain sight and phrased in English or with universal symbols. As an employer, if you’d like to restrict guns to employee parking lots and perhaps other secured, restricted access areas, there must be signs everywhere else in the workplace, including building or property entrances.
Take steps to minimize potential liability
In a few states, as long as employers comply with the guns-at-work laws, they are provided immunity in the face of criminal or violent acts. For states with no employee immunity, you will be held responsible for potential liability as a result of employees who bring guns to work. This includes any physical or psychological harm, negligence and workers’ compensation claims, loss to property and a drop in productivity, just to name a few. Minimizing potential liability might include implementing additional security measures and protocols. Since parking lot laws only allow an employee to store firearms in locked personal vehicles, consider hiring trained security personnel who would monitor this area, preventing any violent situations while making all employers feel safe and protected. If your state law permits, consider implementing a registration process to ensure that employees who store firearms in their personal vehicles, hold valid concealed weapon permits before doing so.