Firearms & Workplace Regulation
"My Indiana employer has a policy that I cannot bring my lawfully possessed handgun into work. I thought an employer could not prohibit this? I am an employer and know there are exclusion places of employment; am I required to allow firearms in the workplace. Who can draft my policy and procedure to be lawful?"
At Ciyou & Dixon, P.C., we frequently field a wide array of Indiana firearms questions and consult with individuals, trade groups, and small to large businesses on such issues. In fact, a substantial part of our practice focuses on firearms regulations and laws. One of the most debated topics in recent history in Indiana is workplace firearms’ regulation.
Why firearms in the workplace generate such heated emotions is important to understand. At the broadest level, it reflects the tension between two constitutional interests. The first is the right to bear arms under the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 32 of the Indiana Constitution. The second is the right to possess property and regulate activities on it.
To partially address these competing interests, the Legislature struck the balance by adopting a statute in 2010. At the basic level, it prohibits an employer from having certain policies and procedures regarding firearms for employees.
Specifically, and employer may not have a policy that prohibits an employee from possessing a firearm and ammunition in the workplace parking lot. However, this is contingent upon the employee locking the firearm/ammunition in his or her vehicle’s trunk, glove compartment or out of sight in the employee’s vehicle.
There are a number of detailed and complex exceptions for employers. They broadly encompass the same or similar firearms exceptions otherwise found in Indiana law, such as for firearms in school parking lots. This is prohibited and the provision does not apply. The area is undeveloped and has risks for both employers and employees.
For instance, an employee maintaining an firearm in his or her vehicle at a place of employment excluded would be subject to discipline or termination, and perhaps a violation of criminal law (such as if the firearm was on school property, a felony). Employers face risk if they prohibit firearms under the workplace statutes as it creates a civil suit provision for aggrieved employees.
A critical distinction about this 2010 legislation is that it has nothing to do with regulating firearms in the workplace, namely outside and beyond an employee’s vehicle. An employer is free to have an lawful policy or procedure prohibit (or allowing) firearms in the workplace.
Where issues ranging from accidental discharge of a firearm and civil suit for injury to an employer drafting workplace rules, it is important to account for this new law. Employers should insure against these and other foreseeable and prudent risks.
Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. attorneys are adept at addressing the breath of the 2010 statute and helping you reach informed decisions about any particular issues arising with respect to workplace firearms.
Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. attorneys have lectured on the topic and counseled a number of individuals and business on these matters. If firearms in the workplace or similar areas are ones in which you need representation or legal advice, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. may be the right legal team to assist you.