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Old September 28, 2009, 10:20 AM   #1
joshearl
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Any legal consequences of prohibiting firearms in the workplace?

I work for a large company that prohibits me from carrying my CCW revolver. My work routine is about to change to the point where I won't even be able to carry it on my commute anymore. (Currently I leave it in the car. I will soon have to take the bus, which means more exposure and nowhere to stash my revolver. Not thrilled about this...)

It got me wondering--has anyone ever sued an employer after being attacked, either in the workplace or during their commute? Did they win?

I support an employer's right to prohibit firearms (freedom from regulations), but it also strikes me that that decision shouldn't come without consequences. By prohibiting firearms, businesses are ridding themselves of liability by transferring risk to their employees. They're basically saying, "Yeah, you could get hurt or killed, but at least we won't be liable either way."

If there was a counterbalancing liability--i.e. I could sue a company if they prohibited me from carrying my defensive weapon, then I get shot on their grounds--it might make for fewer reflexive "no weapons allowed" policies.

Thoughts?

Thanks,
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Old September 28, 2009, 11:01 AM   #2
Glenn E. Meyer
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If there was such a case, it would be well known by now. It is typical for someone to say - Sue 'em - but it hasn't happened yet.

Even in cases of rampages like VT, the law suits have usually centered on not dealing with the bad actor rather than not being able to defend yourself.

If you believe the employer has a right to ban guns, how can you sue said employer if you couldn't defend yourself. That sounds contradictory.

I, personally, don't believe the employer should have that right unless there is a highly technical reason for such. The private property argument (which we have had a 1000 times) is specious to me.

Remember that the private property rights argument is raised by employers not because of some philosophical issue but just because of liability issues soley. Employers can nothing about rights, period.
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Old September 28, 2009, 12:36 PM   #3
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Glenn,

Good points. I understand where you're coming from about rights, but private companies aren't usually bound by constitutional rights. I see it as sort of a freedom of assembly issue--you ought to be free to have any kind of club you want, even if I don't like the rules. Government is different, because I can't opt out without leaving the country entirely.

One parallel that comes to mind is workplace injuries. It's legal for companies to require a worker to carry around big boxes all the time, but that doesn't necessarily get them off the hook if the worker gets injured. There should be liability on both sides of the decision; otherwise it's completely rational to simply ban guns.

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Old September 28, 2009, 02:02 PM   #4
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Sigh- do we REALLY need to open the "property rights" discussion again?

Quote:
One parallel that comes to mind is workplace injuries. It's legal for companies to require a worker to carry around big boxes all the time, but that doesn't necessarily get them off the hook if the worker gets injured.
Not even close. A workplace cannot make you carry boxes around all day, unless they take reasonable steps to prevent injuries. See OSHA requirements. Perhaps employers that deny employees the right to carry should be required to provide armed security. After all, simply putting up a sign that reads "Massacres are prohibited on Company property" is not a reasonable step to prevent violence.

A closer parallel would be an employer that prohibits employees from owning or having a Bible, or prevents a female employee from wearing or possessing a bra while on company property. Perhaps a company rule stating that overtime doesn't start until you have worked 80 hours.

To answer the OP:

If a company were sued (an many have been) they simply claim "third party interference" and assert that they have no control over the criminal acts of a third party, pointing out that they gave all employees a "violence in the workplace" class and sensitivity training as a reasonable way to prevent violence, all the while ignoring the fact that a "defenseless victim zone" emboldened the criminal, and also ignoring that the majority of workplace violence is not perpetrated by disgruntled employees, but by outsiders in robberies and other violent crimes.
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Old September 28, 2009, 02:42 PM   #5
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For the record I agree with Glenn but I digress.

I think the key to winning such lawsuit is whether the company could reasonably foresee the violence and could have taken reasonable steps to prevent it.

Courts have ruled apparently most of the time that crime is not reasonably foreseeable.

Some folk have won lawsuits against companies for workplace violence but that was with employees who had previously demonstrated such tendencies. Don't think I know of any that were successful because of prohibiting CCW.

Here is one source: http://www.workplaceviolence911.com/docs/20041012.htm
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Old September 28, 2009, 06:37 PM   #6
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Actually, there is a well known attorney in the central Florida area who claims that he can get you some cash if you are the victim of crime on a business' property if the owner did not take precautions like lighting the property or installing cameras, but I am not sure the gun thing will fly.
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Old September 28, 2009, 07:53 PM   #7
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Regardless of the feelings of Glen and many others, the fact remains that companies do have rights at least as is spelled out by the legal code on what they can and cannot do (without debating what is or is not a "right").

With that said, this isn't a property right issue either, at least not as described in the OP. It is a condition of employment issue. You may have the right to religion, free speech, assembly, etc., but not necessarily on somebody else's dime. You have the right to call your boss an idiot and he has the legal right to fire you for insubordination. Your free speech was not snubbed, just your job. Same for carrying.

Quote:
They're basically saying, "Yeah, you could get hurt or killed, but at least we won't be liable either way."
From a business standpoint, that would be very smart, if true.

Quote:
If there was a counterbalancing liability--i.e. I could sue a company if they prohibited me from carrying my defensive weapon, then I get shot on their grounds--it might make for fewer reflexive "no weapons allowed" policies.
You can sue them without getting shot. Don't expect to keep your job, but you can sue them for the claim that they are not allowing you to fully protect yourself. Either way, it won't fly too far. The company has to make reasonable accommodations for your safety in such matters, nothing more. At least to date, I know of no laws or court rulings that stipulate that a company must allow employees to be armed as a means to meet the criterion of reasonable accommodation.

You want to sue? It is your dime and your time. Go for it. If you win, gun owners everywhere will consider you a hero. During the course of the event, some might even pitch in and help with some legal fees. They won't, however, fund you after you lose your job.

Now for the classic statement that if you don't like the employment conditions at work, change jobs to some place with conditions you better like. Then comes the typical response about how it isn't that easy to change jobs and all. If you sue, then you have a very good chance of finding out all about changing jobs.
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Old September 28, 2009, 08:21 PM   #8
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Not that I would advocate this, but, is it possible to carry your weapon concealed and not tell anyone you have it? Do you go thru a metal detector? If you feel that strongly about carrying, how about pocket carry with something like a NAA .32 semi-auto. It would seem to me that if you are giving up the car for the commute and switching to public transportation, you are putting yourself more at risk visa vie more exposure to the whackos that haunt the public transit systems. (And no, I am not inferring that everyone that rides the public transit systems are whackos).
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Old September 28, 2009, 08:49 PM   #9
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FWIW, not all states allow CCW on public transit. Failure to comply could result in loss of permit and criminal penalties.
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Old September 28, 2009, 10:15 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Double Naught Spy
It is a condition of employment issue.
And it is a moral issue. An employer who prohibits you from carrying in a job with known criminal dangers (ie a Stop and Rob) to simply protect their bottomline and takes little or no precautiions to protect you is immoral and IMO you may morally disregard their work rule. The right to life trumps the emplyment rights of an employer in such an example. However, I will shut up now because we have argued this before and I will just get the thread locked but I had to respond.
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Old September 29, 2009, 12:18 AM   #11
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I think if you stop looking at this whole thing as a "rights" issue (as in business [property] rights v. individual rights), and begin looking at it as a contract issue, you might see the differences.

Since this is a contract issue, barring State or local law or regulations to the contrary, the contract between the employer and the employee is valid. Therefore, there are no legal consequences if you carry or if your contract prohibits such conduct. It is a civil matter, not a criminal matter, as long as the employment contract itself is legal.

When a State, such as Florida, passes a law to allow carry in your parked vehicle, regardless of the fact that the vehicle may be parked on "private" property, what the State is doing is to regulate a business practice. Something that States have the power and authority to do. These laws have been challenged and have withstood the challenges. So far.

Should the State try to regulate individual carry on then job itself, the State runs afoul of several precedents, and such a regulation may be (and would be) challenged. It (the law) would probably lose in this case.
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Old September 29, 2009, 05:31 AM   #12
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Quote:
And it is a moral issue. An employer who prohibits you from carrying in a job with known criminal dangers (ie a Stop and Rob) to simply protect their bottomline and takes little or no precautiions to protect you is immoral and IMO you may morally disregard their work rule. The right to life trumps the emplyment rights of an employer in such an example. However, I will shut up now because we have argued this before and I will just get the thread locked but I had to respond.
I don't know of a single job without criminal dangers. Most companies, including your example of Stop and Robs do take the necessary reasonable precautions (as per law) and many go to some excess beyond the law. We may not think they are enough, but they are doing what they have to do.

Yes, you may morally disregard their rules and they may legally fire you. I don't know how many fired pizza delivery man threads we have on this, but it is many. Dominos and other pizza companies have had no problems keeping their rules in place, regardless of the complaining of gun owners and the company has done quite well and expanded despite calls for boycotts.

The right to life and the right to carry a gun are not one in the same. When more gun folks understand the distinction, they may then be able to better formulate convincing arguments for the necessity of gun right. The right to carry a gun CAN aid in the right to life via helping preserve life, but so too can countless other items and activities that certainly are not the same thing as a right to carry a gun. When gun folks confuse the right to life with the 2nd Amendment, it just doesn't come across like they understand the topics about which they are discussing.

In a previous job, I have gone through the process of breaking the rules because I did think it was in my best self interest, but not because I thought my rights were somehow superior to that of my employer or that I thought my morals were better. I simply weighed the risk of the potential of being able to maybe defend my life at work with a firearm versus losing my job if it was ever discovered. I would have been in no position to complain if I had been discovered and fired because I knew the rules of work and the conditions for employment.
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Old September 29, 2009, 05:35 AM   #13
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Quote:
the fact remains that companies do have rights at least as is spelled out by the legal code on what they can and cannot do
That is correct, except that anything that is allowed or prohibited by law is not a right, because I can change the law. Florida recently did so with respect to this imagined property right in employers' parking lots.

This has more to do with the right to effective self defense than it does the 2A. This is the same old tired "I am an employer, so I can do what I want to the proles" argument. As for me, I will continue to lobby my legislators to change the law. The "guns in parking lots" laws have already been changed in my state. Good luck to Pizza Hut in their next firing of a delivery driver.
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Old September 29, 2009, 09:08 AM   #14
Glenn E. Meyer
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My position is clear. The right of self-defense and carry, in my view of morality, supercedes the right of the employer to worry about his or her liability. Thus, this right should be enshrined with the same force as others in the BOR. Might we have a constitutional amendment for such - sure. The only exception being highly technical. Thus, the other arguments about current laws would be moot.

This is a different statement than the 2nd Amend. which speaks to goverment control.

But that won't happen.
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Old September 29, 2009, 09:37 AM   #15
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Right Glenn, and I would like to see your view come to pass. However, what we want and what is, as you noted, not likely to come to pass.

Quote:
That is correct, except that anything that is allowed or prohibited by law is not a right, because I can change the law. Florida recently did so with respect to this imagined property right in employers' parking lots.
Then by that definition, we have no rights because all rights are subject to change and to modification by the law. Just because the Bill of Rights has not itself been amended does not mean that it can't be amended as other amendments have been changed. Funny how that works.

That is why I didn't want to go this route in arguing what is and what is not a "right." That which we are proclaiming as a right is subject to modification by law and is defined, ironically, by legislation.
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Old September 29, 2009, 09:39 AM   #16
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While you can make a liability argument, I always thought it was strictly self preservation by management and supervisors. Do you want to argue with or fire an armed employee?
You have the right to leave your CCW gun in your car; if you chose not to avail yourself of the ability because you're taking the bus, that's not your companies fault. You could ask in the next contract negotiation for lockers to be placed near the entrance for people to leave their guns in, if enough people ask you might get it. But constitutional freedom works both way, you have the right to carry on public property, the private property owner has the right to tell you no.
You would probably pretty upset too if you hire someone to paint your house, notice him packing around your kids, and he tells you nothing you can do about it.
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Old September 29, 2009, 09:41 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Antipitas
the contract between the employer and the employee is valid.
Al, a question and sorry I forgot the legal doctrine of this, but can't contracts be null and void where one party has an unfair advantage over the other? I might be off here but my dim memory recalls such a doctrine.

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Old September 29, 2009, 09:47 AM   #18
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mapsjanhere:So are you pretty upset when you go to the mall and see the same painter. He is probably packing there. Do you flee in terror from the licensed citizen?

I would be happy to exclude the private home from my provisions for employers, if you are scared of the licensed citizen.

Interesting view point - here on a gun forum, we have had several threads of folks being scared of licensed citizens in their home. However, they walk among us - in the mall, in church (depending), in restaurants, on the street.

Hidden and armed - perhaps seething with unknown psychopathologies or bizarre political beliefs, they glide down our streets and in cars.

Why - I'm convinced - no one should carry guns!!! I'm with you, Diane and Chuck!
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Old September 29, 2009, 10:42 AM   #19
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Has nothing to do if I'm scared, it's my choice to tell him no in MY house, my factory, my mall. The second amendment doesn't trump the fifth about taking property for public use.
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Old September 29, 2009, 01:48 PM   #20
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And that's why I want the law to be changed such that places of public business don't have that 'so-called right'. I also see how you are being deprived of your property if you have to open your business to carry. The common argument is that we have decided that the 5th doesn't allow racists to engage in segregated businesses. But that only is in regard to protected classes. My view is that the person who carries should be such a protected class and not be discriminated against by some venial business person.

Again, your home is your own - I would exempt that but I have little sympathy for the argument that it is my playpen, mine, mine, mine - and thus I can discriminate on race, religion, national origin, gender orientation, and carry. Since there is no rationale for such discrimination (except in highly technical applications) and such discrimination is detrimental to society, such self-indulgence is not useful. It is not the same as taking your property.

But we've been down the moral debate on property rights before.
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Old September 29, 2009, 02:08 PM   #21
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My recommendation is if you feel you need a gun to be safe on the way to work, keep it.

Either way, if they did fire you because you did something silly and someone saw the gun... It's easier to replace your job than it is to replace your life!
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Old September 29, 2009, 02:27 PM   #22
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First, most employers in most (if not all) states are covered by worker's compensation laws. These provide the sole vehicle for compensation against your employer (not a third party, though) for workplace injuries. That's true whether you're attacked, a fellow worker is careless and hurts you, or the roof caves in. So, in a sense, sure...you can recover from your employer if you're hurt by a bad guy.

Second, as has been thoroughly noted here and elsewhere, you don't have constitutional rights against private citizens, including your employer. Your employer doesn't have to allow you, for instance, your First Amendment rights. You don't get to walk around the workplace shouting anti-Republican slogans if your employer prohibits that, while you can do that out on a city sidewalk.

Now, one supposes the government could change this constitutional regime by requiring private parties to respect everyone's constitutional rights. You can imagine (barely) a law that requires you (and your employer) to protect everyone's First Amendment rights. You can therefore imagine protesters setting up shop on your lawn...or at least anyone whom you invite on your property setting up shop to rant and rave, with you powerless to do anything about it. And unhappy system, in my estimation.
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Old September 29, 2009, 02:37 PM   #23
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Shouting slogans during work is clearly detrimental to the work place and doing your job. So that argument is specious.

Second, malls have been viewed as public places in some cases, such that folks have been able to set up advocacy booths for various causes - as long as they are not disruptive.

Postulating a disruptive behavior is a straw man argument.
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Old September 29, 2009, 09:37 PM   #24
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Quote:
Shouting slogans during work is clearly detrimental to the work place and doing your job. So that argument is specious.
It's not an argument. It's the American system. And the law says that private folks get to decide what they put up with. Private folks are not bound to respect your First Amendment rights, nor your Second Amendment rights, nor the 4th, 5th, etc....point is, the constitution maximizes the freedom of individuals in dealing with each other, and minimizes the freedom of the government in dealing with and individual. All arguments about scope of regulation and freedoms exist in that framework.

If you wish to change the entire American system of government to say that private people have to abide by the Bill of Rights in all their dealings with others, well, be prepared.
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Old September 29, 2009, 10:49 PM   #25
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Quote:
mapsjanhere:So are you pretty upset when you go to the mall and see the same painter. He is probably packing there. Do you flee in terror from the licensed citizen?

I would be happy to exclude the private home from my provisions for employers, if you are scared of the licensed citizen.

Interesting view point - here on a gun forum, we have had several threads of folks being scared of licensed citizens in their home. However, they walk among us - in the mall, in church (depending), in restaurants, on the street.

Hidden and armed - perhaps seething with unknown psychopathologies or bizarre political beliefs, they glide down our streets and in cars.

Why - I'm convinced - no one should carry guns!!! I'm with you, Diane and Chuck!
Mapsjanhere had a good point, company property is owned by the corporation and is subject to whatever restrictions they decide to put upon the property within the limits of the law. Corporate/business property does fall under some additional restrictions based on protected classes that your home does not. You as a private homeowner can choose not to employ lawn maintenance based on race but cannot as a business owner. Concealed weapons carriers do not constitute a protected class, so, like it or not, companies can choose to allow or not allow firearms on their property. You have the right to seek other employment.

Quote:
Interesting view point - here on a gun forum, we have had several threads of folks being scared of licensed citizens in their home. However, they walk among us - in the mall, in church (depending), in restaurants, on the street.
Let's get away from calling folks "scared" who choose to exercise their own rights on their own property. Your rights end where mine start, and that's my property line in the case of my home. Carry where you want elsewhere, but if you are in my home, I make the rules.
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