Beware: Your Employee Might Be Packin'

Beware: Your Employee Might Be Packin'

By Jerry Ballard

Businesses are going to have to address the issue of employee bringing their favorite firearm to work.

Most companies created or added policies on guns after the rise of workplace violence back in the 1980s and early ‘90s. Back then, it seems we were hearing about shootings every month.

While this was jokingly referred to as “going postal” since several of the incidents took place at a post office, it was a scary time to be a manager firing or disciplining an employee.

Despite the fact that most employers have clear policies that forbid employees from having a gun at their place of employment, several states don’t agree.

Nine states have recently passed laws allowing employees to bring guns to work: Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi and Oklahoma. Similar legislation has been proposed in other states, including Arizona, Missouri and Tennessee.

All of these laws are different, but the purpose is to allow an employee to bring a gun to work as long as it stays in their vehicle in the parking lot. Some of the laws allow the employer to prevent a gun from being stored in a company-owned vehicle. Many of the laws are unclear about how to handle an employee who works outside or one who travels and has a concealed carry permit.

In a study done in 2005 and published in the American Journal of Public Health, it was found that the risk of a worker being killed at work was substantially higher in workplaces where employer’s policy allowed workers to keep guns at work.

These businesses were five to seven times more likely to be the site of a worker homicide when compared to those where all weapons were prohibited.

Companies and other entities in states allowing guns at the workplace have sued to have these laws ruled unconstitutional but so far they have not been successful. What everyone seems to be waiting for is the first time an employee gets fired or just gets extremely angry, goes out to his car, comes back into the office and kills a few people. It is not a case of if this will happen but when.

Businesses face the double-edged sword: Do they (a) protect their employees by trying to enforce a weapons ban and face a discrimination suit from a gun-toting employee or (b) face the lawsuits when an employee gets killed or wounded by a fellow employee who retrieved his gun from his car in the parking lot.

Some employers are enacting radical solutions to try to placate both sides of the debate: the rights of gun-owning employees and the safety concerns of all employees. Designating a secure parking lot for employees who want to bring a gun to work or moving all parking further from the building are two of the approaches being tried.

Any employee who brings a gun to work is a potential discrimination lawsuit or incident waiting to happen the first time you attempt to discipline or fire them.

(C) 2010 Jerry Ballard, Perfect People Solutions

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1 Comment:

  • 5 January, 2011

    Though I understand the premise of the article written I find it to be naive and emotionally polarized. Phrases such as the “issue of employee[s] bringing their favorite firearm to work” to me, implicitly insinuates that people only bring firearms to work as, what, an accessory?!

    I have been carrying a concealed weapon to work for the last 4 years and have never once enjoyed it. It can be uncomfortable, difficult to hide, and I have to sacrifice certain clothing selections to keep it hidden. Since my decision to become licensed I have known beyond the shadow of any doubt that my decision to carry comes with incredible responsibility (hearing a scene from Spiderman echo in my mind) but I made my mind up a long time ago that I was going to provide myself and my family with all of the protection I could. And I think that most licensed CCW folks want the same. They just want to be able to protect themselves from individuals that will absolutely NOT abide by their companies policy of “no firearms at work.”

    This article, again, in my opinion, seems to make States that are fighting the no firearms at work policy sound ludicrous. As though they are defending those that are going to “[go] out to his car, come back into the office and kill a few people.” I disagree. States are attempting to protect individuals, like myself, who want to stop someone from doing that to me. Like the article stated, “it is not a case of if this will happen but when.”

    I do resent any perspective that states a person wants to carry a weapon only to hurt, kill, or intimidate another person. Almost as though a person owns a gun to satiate their need to vent their emotions. I wish this were a world where violence never happened. I really do since I would be sitting here at my desk much more comfortably since my 1911 would still be at home. But this is not that world.

    I hope beyond all hopes that I will never have to pull my firearm from its holster for anything other than practice or fun throughout the course of my life. But I have made my mind that if there is no other option, no words to calm someone down, no wallet that is sufficient, I reserve the right to protect myself and my family.

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