Most employers believe that they have the right to ban certain dangerous items, including guns, on their property. In almost 20 states, those employers would be wrong.
In the wake of the devastating Newtown shooting, many employers may be looking at tightening up or developing workplace violence policies to address guns and the safety of their employees. The gun control debate has waged furiously since the December massacre, but so far only New York has passed tougher gun control laws.
In 19 other states, there are laws on the books that permit persons to carry concealed weapons in their vehicles. These "parking lot" laws specifically state that an employer either may not ban employees from having loaded weapons in their cars or, in the case of Georgia, may impose a ban but may not search for guns in vehicles. This is true even though the cars where the guns are located are parked on employers' property.
Less than one month prior to the Newtown tragedy, the Wall Street Journal wrote an informative article on the tension these laws present between gun rights activists and businesses. (See WSJ 11/30/12 "Gun Showdown at Work"). It will be interesting to see if any of these laws get amended or repealed in the coming months. In the meantime, we certainly encourage employers to adopt workplace violence policies, but they need to check with counsel to determine if those policies will pass muster under state laws.