In the aftermath of the tragic mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the controversial issue of weapons in the workplace is once again a hotly debated topic. If you’re a business owner without a clearly defined weapon-free workplace policy, you might find yourself dealing with employees who feel the need to carry a gun for protection while on the job.
So what should you do to ensure that your work environment is safe and free from weapons if that is your policy? Your first move should be to check your state and local laws. Since federal law doesn’t directly address weapons at private workplaces, several states have taken it upon themselves to pass individual laws to regulate the issue. Let’s look at the allowances under the law and identify how they affect your policy decisions and the required notices you must post.
Enforcing a Total Ban on Weapons
In some states, employers can totally ban weapons in the workplace. In these cases, employers can forbid workers from carrying weapons to the office and even in the company parking lot. Your right to set rules on your private property is given more weight than an employees’ right to carry a weapon in these states.
When considering your policy, it’s important to communicate it to your employees in writing. You should use strong, plain language and explain that employees who violate the policy will face disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
Whether you use email or hard copy to distribute the policy, it’s best practice to have your employees sign and date a form acknowledging they read and understood the policy. These signed acknowledgments should be kept on file so employees can’t claim that they didn’t know about the company policy.
You can also strengthen your policy by posting notices in prominent locations where employees, customers, and visitors can easily see them.
Allowing Weapons in the Parking Lot
Currently, 23 states have enacted laws preventing employers from completely banning weapons at the workplace. These laws, commonly referred to as “parking lot”, “guns-at-work” and “guns-in-trunks” laws, allow employees to bring a weapon to work in their vehicle.
Employers in these states have the right to keep weapons out of the office, but the laws allow employees to store weapons in personal vehicles while parked at the worksite. The laws vary from state to state but typically require employees to meet certain conditions, which include the following:
- The gun must be lawfully possessed
- When the employee is not inside the vehicle, the gun must be stored out of plain sight in a locked compartment or container.
- The vehicle must be operated or parked in a specific location
- The vehicle must not be owned or leased by the employer
Carrying a firearm on most federal properties is illegal under federal laws, so parking lot laws wouldn’t apply in those cases. And different laws may apply to certain institutions such as schools, hospitals and state-owned buildings.
Posting requirements are not exactly the same in each state, and staying compliant can be difficult, especially if your business operates in multiple states. In Tennessee, for example, the requirements for signs are very detailed. Signs must meet specific dimensions and include certain phrases along with the “no firearms allowed” symbol.
In Texas, employers must post signs in both English and Spanish. These signs must be prominently displayed at entrances and follow specific color, style and font guidelines. For gun owners with open-carry licenses, separate signs are required.
“No Weapons” Posting Compliance the Easy Way
It’s a tough task for employers to keep up with state laws and posting requirements for a weapons-free workplace. If you’re looking for an efficient and professional solution to make the process easier for you, look no further than "No Weapons" State-Specific Posters.
With correct postings for all 50 states, the service completely covers your compliance concerns. You won’t have to worry about font size, colors and wording – it’s all taken care of for you. You can notify employees and visitors that your business is a weapons-free zone with confidence and without the hassle. And the service also delivers the added benefit of free replacement posters when mandatory changes to the law occur during your service term.