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How far can I go to ban guns at work?

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Q. As the owner of a Texas company, I want to institute a policy that strictly forbids employees from bringing guns to work—both into the office building and in the parking lot outside. Can I legally draft such a policy?

A. You may legally prohibit your employees from bringing guns into the actual workplace or office building, but you may not prohibit your employees from storing or transporting legally owned firearms inside their own vehicles while parked in a parking lot that you provide.

There are, however, a number of exceptions to this rule.

Section 52.061 of the Texas Labor Code states that a “public or private employer may not prohibit an employee from transporting or storing a firearm or ammunition the employee is authorized by law to possess in a locked, privately owned motor vehicle in a parking lot, parking garage, or other parking area the employer provides for employees.”

This applies to employees who hold “a license to carry a concealed handgun . . . who otherwise lawfully possesses a firearm, or who lawfully possesses ammunition.”

A central factor to consider in determining the legality of this firearm restriction is whether your employees require a vehicle to conduct company business (personal or company-owned vehicles). If your employees use a vehicle for company business—making deliveries, transporting clients, travelling between work locations, etc.—then you can prohibit them from storing or transporting legally owned firearms in said vehicles during work hours.

Even if an employee has owned his truck for 12 years, if he drives it to conduct company business, you may prohibit him from carrying a firearm in it while the work is being performed.

As an employer and owner or custodian of the workplace premises, when drafting a firearms-restriction policy it is important to remember that you have certain rights to control who and what is allowed onto company property. It is your duty to balance your employees’ freedoms with the maintenance of a safe and productive workplace. If you deem that firearms within the workplace pose a threat to safety or productivity, you may draft a policy prohibiting them—it would apply even to employees who hold a “concealed carry” license (CCL).

Those CCL employees, though, under Texas Labor Code Section 52.061, are allowed to store and transport a legally owned firearm within their own vehicle as long as the vehicle is parked only on your property and the vehicle is not used to conduct company business, as stated earlier.

As with drafting any workplace policy, you should attempt to restrict the policy’s scope to the minimum amount necessary to ensure safety so as to not attract litigation against a policy that oversteps its bounds, and to secure its enforceability. Any violation of your policy that poses a threat to your company’s (or other employees’) well-being or productivity provides grounds for disciplinary action.

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