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Thread: Employer telling me I can no longer bring a weapon to work. Can they do that?

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    Employer telling me I can no longer bring a weapon to work. Can they do that?

    My employer is working on a new employee handbook. It know states "Employees are prohibited from possessing or bring weapons onto Property..." Can they do this in the State of Washington. They also added the verbiage that ... anyone else on property would be in violation of this. Help I would like some info before I fight this and not sign the new policy.
    Last edited by Grapeshot; 02-08-2015 at 08:32 PM. Reason: fixed title

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    Regular Member Grim_Night's Avatar
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    Short answer, if it is a privately owned business, then yes they can.

    However, I'm fairly sure that case law will back this up, they can't say jack about you lawfully possessing a firearm or weapon in your personal vehicle on their property. Use the old military moto... don't ask, don't tell.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grim_Night View Post
    Short answer, if it is a privately owned business, then yes they can.

    However, I'm fairly sure that case law will back this up, they can't say jack about you lawfully possessing a firearm or weapon in your personal vehicle on their property. Use the old military moto... don't ask, don't tell.

    That depends on the State. I know that in Utah an employer was perfectly free to ban guns (and most anything else) from their parking lots (even if it was carried out of sight in your own car parked there) until a couple of years back when we managed to pass what we call "Parking Lot Preemption." This law specifically limits the property and contract rights of employers by preventing them (with rare exceptions) from maintaining or enforcing any policy against having a lawful firearm (or religious material) inside one's personal car that is parked in the employee parking lot. We worked to pass it after three guys were fired for violating a "no gun" policy in a company parking lot. They sued for wrongful termination and the case went all the way to our State Supreme Court which held that in the absence of laws limiting the ability of employers to have such a policy, the policy was valid and enforceable. So we passed a law. It was a tough sell and many who traditionally support RKBA are also very big supporters of property and contract rights. We made the case this was not a contest between property and "gun rights", but was rather a classical case of property rights endangering the right to defend innocent life (and to practice religion).

    Don't ask, don't tell can work for a very long time as few employers make a habit of searching employees' cars. But if the gun ever does come to light, it could cost an employee his job (or other discipline). There is also the issue of personal integrity for those who sign an employment agreement to comply with company policies. Parking somewhere other than the company parking lot is one solution, if that is feasible.

    I know nothing of the laws of Washington, but I suspect that workers' comp does nothing to provide financial reimbursement should an employee be the victim of a violent crime while making his normal commute to or from work, unarmed because of a company "no-gun" policy that extends to the parking lot.

    Sadly, unless the company is owned by an individual, odds of persuading the company to change the policy are probably low. Employment law has become so complex that I believe most companies with full time, in-house HR departments belong to various HR organizations. These provide prototype policies intended to minimize liability and I suspect that such prototypes all flow from a small number of law firms in places like NYC.

    It was about 15 years ago when a former employer inexplicable changed from having no policy at all regarding guns, to a "no gun" policy that extended to the parking lot. When I asked the VP of HR about it, he assured me they had no intention of banning guns from the parking lot, just from the buildings themselves as even he personally kept a gun in his car to use for after work shooting events. But the language in the policy was clear, guns were banned in the parking lot, and nobody was willing to alter the policy at all. They simply made no effort to enforce it in the parking lot as per his stated intent. In that case, I didn't feel that having a legal gun in the car was actually a violation of my agreement to abide their policy as I was abiding the stated intent.

    Charles

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    Employer

    I work in a Church in Seattle.
    Last edited by Snot00011; 01-06-2015 at 07:58 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snot00011 View Post
    My employer is working on a new employee handbook. It know states "Employees are prohibited from possessing or bring weapons onto Property..." Can they do this in the State of Washington. They also added the verbiage that ... anyone else on property would be in violation of this. Help I would like some info before I fight this and not sign the new policy.
    Open carry when you can, conceal carry when you can't. I carry a Ruger lcp at work, easy to conceal. Its your life, and I find that more important than a job, so if your employer does not allow firearms, well then say nothing and just keep on working, it will just be your little secret

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    Campaign Veteran skidmark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grim_Night View Post
    Short answer, if it is a privately owned business, then yes they can.

    However, I'm fairly sure that case law will back this up, they can't say jack about you lawfully possessing a firearm or weapon in your personal vehicle on their property. Use the old military moto... don't ask, don't tell.
    A short search of RCWs http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/ brings up nothing that would stop a private employer from instituting such a policy. Grim_Night might be right, but most cases of trespass are not decided in courts of record or appealed to courts of record, which means they are not going to show up as "case law". Criminal Trespass in the 2nd Degree carries a max penalty of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. http://www.johntlaw.com/criminal-tre...shington-state

    If you fight the policy - before or after it is written - you make yourself a target. The employer cannot force you to allow them to search/inspect your privately owned vehicle but you may find that refusing to grant permission is sufficient grounds to either prohibit you from bringing a vehicle on their property or terminating your employment for cause.

    Refusing to sign the new policy is sufficient cause for termination.

    Now you know. The ultimate decision on how to proceed from here is up to you.

    stay safe.
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    Regular Member sudden valley gunner's Avatar
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    Yes.
    I am not anti Cop I am just pro Citizen.

    U.S. v. Minker, 350 US 179, at page 187
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    Activist Member golddigger14s's Avatar
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    This is WA, an employer can fire you for any reason. They are a private entity, and can make any rule they want to. If you carry on the property you won't be breaking any WA law, but they can fire you for it. I work at a store at the gun counter, and even I can't carry. The customers can, but not the employees.
    "The beauty of the Second Amenment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it." Thomas Jefferson
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    Ask them if the handbook constitutes a contract .. they'll say no.

    But that's a side issue .. you are an at-will employee; they can fire you for anything that does not violate a well established public policy (like making a complaint to OSHA, etc...very narrow exceptions).

    So unless you wanted to be a test case to expand the exceptions to the at-will doctrine you should follow the policy. If not, expect to be fired and expect to lose any court case (they may settle for some cash just to avoid 40K in litigation costs).

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    As is commonly known, your constitutional rights only restrict the actions of government against you. It therefore follows that a private employer can make any rules they want, the constitution notwithstanding.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NavyLCDR View Post
    Actually, yes they can. What they can't do is search the vehicle to find the gun but they can certainly prohibit firearms on property they are in control of, both inside vehicles and outside vehicles. If they can see the gun sitting on the seat, though, they could use that as evidence that the employee violated the employee's handbook.
    Lacking statutory limits or contractual agreements (including collective bargaining agreements) to the contrary, nothing will prevent the employer from requiring employees to consent to searches of their bags, cars, etc, while on company property, as a condition of continuing employment. And lacking statutory or contractual limits to the contrary, nothing prevents an employer from adding such a policy at any time they want to after someone has started employment.

    Randomly searching vehicles is a good way to really kill employee moral. So I've never seen it happen. But it could happen, and especially if there is ever any cause to do so....including a fellow employer getting all nervous about whether the resident gun nut has scary guns in his car in the company parking lot in violation of company policy.

    Utah's Parking Lot Preemption Law protects most employees from adverse employment action for having a gun (or religious items) in their private cars even if parked in the company parking lot. An employer can still require employees to allow a search of their car, and can terminate employees who refuse. But if they happen to find a gun (or Bible, or Jehovah Witness tracts, or a Quran, etc) in the car, they cannot take any employment action as a result. Of course, if they find company property that shouldn't be there....

    But lacking a similar statute, employees either have to comply with no-guns policies even in parking lots, or they are relying on not getting caught and should consider the total of their conduct so as to minimize the chances of their policy violation coming to light.

    Charles

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    Campaign Veteran Right Wing Wacko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by utbagpiper View Post
    Lacking statutory limits or contractual agreements (including collective bargaining agreements) to the contrary, nothing will prevent the employer from requiring employees to consent to searches of their bags, cars, etc, while on company property, as a condition of continuing employment. And lacking statutory or contractual limits to the contrary, nothing prevents an employer from adding such a policy at any time they want to after someone has started employment.

    Randomly searching vehicles is a good way to really kill employee moral. So I've never seen it happen. But it could happen, and especially if there is ever any cause to do so....including a fellow employer getting all nervous about whether the resident gun nut has scary guns in his car in the company parking lot in violation of company policy.

    Utah's Parking Lot Preemption Law protects most employees from adverse employment action for having a gun (or religious items) in their private cars even if parked in the company parking lot. An employer can still require employees to allow a search of their car, and can terminate employees who refuse. But if they happen to find a gun (or Bible, or Jehovah Witness tracts, or a Quran, etc) in the car, they cannot take any employment action as a result. Of course, if they find company property that shouldn't be there....

    But lacking a similar statute, employees either have to comply with no-guns policies even in parking lots, or they are relying on not getting caught and should consider the total of their conduct so as to minimize the chances of their policy violation coming to light.

    Charles
    Actually my employer argues that since the policy is stated and all employees sign a document that certifies that they have read it, that bringing a gun to work is Criminal Trespass and will be charged as such.

    Per WA state law, it is not trespass when:
    (2) The premises were at the time open to members of the public and the actor complied with all lawful conditions imposed on access to or remaining in the premises;

    First off, the premises is not open to the public, but even if it was you have not complied with all lawful conditions imposed on access.

    Also, while you have the right to not allow them to search your vehicle, they can still fire you for that refusal.

    It should be noted I work for one of the more anti-gun employers in this state
    Last edited by Right Wing Wacko; 01-07-2015 at 01:46 PM.

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    Regular Member OC for ME's Avatar
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    If ya like getting a paycheck from that employer...
    "I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson.

    "Better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent suffer" - English jurist William Blackstone.
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    I would not work for a commie employer who wants to search my vehicle or demand that no guns in the vehicles. I like to go shooting during lunch sometimes.

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    Regular Member Kopis's Avatar
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    I would venture to say a large majority of businesses have policies such as this especially larger corporations. At the same time, they aren't out searching your car. Just keep it in the trunk, glovebox etc.

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    Campaign Veteran Right Wing Wacko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kopis View Post
    I would venture to say a large majority of businesses have policies such as this especially larger corporations. At the same time, they aren't out searching your car. Just keep it in the trunk, glovebox etc.
    +1

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    Quote Originally Posted by Right Wing Wacko View Post
    Actually my employer argues that since the policy is stated and all employees sign a document that certifies that they have read it, that bringing a gun to work is Criminal Trespass and will be charged as such.
    That is harsh.


    Quote Originally Posted by Right Wing Wacko View Post
    Also, while you have the right to not allow them to search your vehicle, they can still fire you for that refusal.
    Yup.

    Charles

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kopis View Post
    I would venture to say a large majority of businesses have policies such as this especially larger corporations. At the same time, they aren't out searching your car. Just keep it in the trunk, glovebox etc.
    That is what works for most folks, most of the time. There are some who feel that personal integrity requires them to abide such policies and I would not try to persuade anyone otherwise.

    I would add that if someone is going to do this, he needs to keep his mouth shut about guns, about going shooting over lunch, etc. He also needs to keep his nose especially clean in every regard at work. In other words, avoid giving the employer any reason whatsoever to search your car in the first place.

    And if one finds himself in a spot where the employer is looking for a reason to terminate employment (not that a reason is necessarily needed, but it sure makes HR types feel better to have a solid reason than to risk any kind of wrongful termination suit), he may consider sterilizing the car until such time as he either secures new employment, or conditions improve with the current boss.

    Charles

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    Regular Member rapgood's Avatar
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    Yes. They can (and many do). Although, I have a difficult time understanding how it would constitute criminal trespass. I don't think that dog would hunt.
    Rev. Robert Apgood, Esq.

    A right cannot be lost by exercising it. McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U.S. 3025, 130 S. Ct. 3020, 3021, 177 L. Ed. 2d 894 (2010) (citing Near v. Minn., 283 U.S. 697 (1931)).

    Although IAAL, anything I say here is not legal advice. No conversations we may have privately or otherwise in this forum constitute the formation of an attorney-client relationship, and are not intended to do so.

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    Regular Member Freedom1Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rapgood View Post
    Yes. They can (and many do). Although, I have a difficult time understanding how it would constitute criminal trespass. I don't think that dog would hunt.
    I wish I had purchased the book. I was browsing legal case books and found a case like this involving UPS. UPS fired someone for having a gun in their car.

    UPS lost. Since the general public had access to the parking area, they could not dictate what you did or did not have in your car.

    IT was the UPS in Redmond my shop steward at the time was there for the case. Some where between Sep 1998 and Sep 2003. Might it be referenced in Lexus Nexus?
    Provision for free medical attendance and nursing, for clothing, for food, for housing, for the education of children, and a hundred other matters, might with equal propriety be proposed as tending to relieve the employee of mental strain and worry. --- These matters obviously lie outside the orbit of congressional power. (Railroad Retirement Board v Alton Railroad)

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    Quote Originally Posted by golddigger14s View Post
    I work at a store at the gun counter, and even I can't carry.
    Please let us know which store... want to be sure NOT to give them any of my business. (Yeah, sucks to be you, in that case, but why should such an anti-freedom business get any of our dollars?)

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    Quote Originally Posted by kparker View Post
    Please let us know which store... want to be sure NOT to give them any of my business. (Yeah, sucks to be you, in that case, but why should such an anti-freedom business get any of our dollars?)
    Ever seen an employee at Cabela's, Sportsman's Warehouse, Bass Pro Shops, Sportco, etc carry while at work?
    www.WaGuns.org

    Currently mapping locations of Shooting Areas as well as Gun Stores - Let me know what is missing!

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    Regular Member compmanio365's Avatar
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    There are times when "concealed is concealed" holds true. This is one of those times.

    They cannot search you or your vehicle. As people have said, refusal to do so is not a crime, but can be cause for termination of employment.

    Do not give them reason to look at you any closer than they do any other employee, and you should be fine.

    I have decided for many years that my life and the lives of others are worth more than my job. I can always get another job....lives are a little bit harder to come by.

    And no, disobeying the policy about carry is not criminal trespass, no matter what they say. Refusal to leave a property after being served with a criminal trespass notice is criminal trespass. They might call the police and have them serve you with that notice if they catch you at work with a firearm....but unless you return after that point, there is no law being broken. A sign or company policy does not meet the requirements for proper notice that must be met before you can be charged with the crime of criminal trespass....otherwise there would be open carriers all across WA breaking the law by ignoring GFZ signs.

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    Maybe you need them to define weapons. In fact that's vague enough to allow contesting it. But as Macbeth says you're probably 'at will' meaning they can fire you at any time for no stated reason.

    Is a pencil, pen, cane, paperweight a weapon? People have been killed with them.

    On a more serious note I wonder what happened to cause a church to institute such a harsh and pervasive policy? Is it from one person or a committee?

    Oh, and you might ask them what provisions they have in place to protect you if there is an attack or burglary (not that you should do anything to 'stand out').
    Last edited by Maverick9; 01-08-2015 at 12:19 PM.

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    Had similar situation when worked for Walgreens. I parked just off their property and walked the extra 10 feet.
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