Soon many Ohio employers will no longer have the right to ban firearms from all company property. On December 19, 2016, Governor John Kasich signed Senate Bill 199, which prevents employers from prohibiting concealed handgun license holders from storing firearms in their locked vehicles when parked on company property. The law does not affect employers’ ability to otherwise exclude firearms from their premises.

Initially, the bill included even more expansive measures that would have extended employment discrimination protections to concealed-carry permit holders. Under that version of the bill, those holding a concealed-carry license would have been afforded the same protections as other classes protected under the Ohio Civil Rights Act, i.e. race, sex, age, religion, and disability. These measures were removed from the final version of the bill after business friendly organizations railed against them.

Although the bill in its current form is significantly scaled back, it represents a notable departure from current law, which permits private employers to exclude weapons from all company property, including parking lots. The bill also expands the places permit holders may carry a concealed firearm to include, among other places, childcare centers that do not post signage prohibiting concealed weapons, and college and university campuses with permission of the boards of trustees.

The law is expected to go into effect in mid-March of 2017.

Given these upcoming changes, employers should take this opportunity to review their firearms policies and determine what revisions, if any, are needed to maintain compliance with the law.