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Thread: Employer parking lot storage of a weapon in my vehicle.

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    Regular Member bloodstone1311's Avatar
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    Employer parking lot storage of a weapon in my vehicle.

    Well I just got called into HR because a coworker last week saw my pistol while I was out on lunch break at a local store. They are telling me they prohibit having a gun on company property and indirectly hinted my car was liable to be searched in the future. I would like some feedback from some more lawyerly types on this because I don't see where they can get away with that. It's a private automobile. I have never set foot out of the car on company property with it on.

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    Regular Member Shovelhead's Avatar
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    Company's parking lot is company's property.
    Park elsewhere.
    Assault Weapon (N) “Any firearm whose design disturbs the sleep of progressive politicians.”.

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    You are free to seek out new employment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bloodstone1311 View Post
    Well I just got called into HR because a coworker last week saw my pistol while I was out on lunch break at a local store. They are telling me they prohibit having a gun on company property and indirectly hinted my car was liable to be searched in the future. I would like some feedback from some more lawyerly types on this because I don't see where they can get away with that. It's a private automobile. I have never set foot out of the car on company property with it on.
    first standard caveat...i am not an attorney.

    second, if your employee handbook states no firearms on company premises...so be it - park in the street and walk on to the property. (want to screw with HR and the handbook states no weapons...ask if they are searching employees and their vehicles for knives or ballpoint pens ~ normally enough to get HR folk spitting and red in the face...)

    as for searching...not sure of any nice LE that would actually participate in that activity especially since it is not a community issue but rather a private issue...now, company security ~ not sure what they are capable of if their masters say do it.

    again if the handbook states your vehicle is subject to search for anything...then yes company security will break in and search it and hold anything found against you.

    again park on the street and smile sweetly if asked about it. when i have encountered HR asking where my firearm was, i looked back at them asked if i could look in their purse, or desk, or pants pockets.

    ipse

    ps, finally, if you are in an at will state and/or not protected by union...your masters do not need justification...you're gone and have to find $$$$ to get back in.
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    Regular Member DeSchaine's Avatar
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    It's hard to believe that Va. law has no provisions for this. Several states have statutes that say a persons vehicle is immune from those workplace rules because it's privately owned. The so called "Parking Lot Laws."

    PDF of various state laws regarding employers and firearms.
    Last edited by DeSchaine; 12-14-2015 at 06:40 PM.
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    Regular Member ProShooter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bloodstone1311 View Post
    because a coworker last week saw my pistol while I was out on lunch break at a local store.
    On a lunch break? off company property? at a local store?

    First, I'd say "gee, I don't know what you are talking about"

    Secondly, I'd tell them to go $%^& themselves.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ProShooter View Post
    On a lunch break? off company property? at a local store?

    First, I'd say "gee, I don't know what you are talking about"

    Secondly, I'd tell them to go $%^& themselves.
    I think ProShooter has a valid point, here: why is HR giving more credit to the report-er than the OPer?

    Separately, as far as I know, VA is an at-will employment state. They can fire the OP for any reason or no reason (as long as he's not in a protected class, for example, handicapped, or a minority.)

    The ramifications and alternatives proceed from there.

    Regarding the car search hint, my inclination would be to say, "consent refused". If they fire me, they would've fired me when they found the gun--at least I didn't waive a right paid for in blood. With any luck, they'll be arrogant and break a window or something to search the car; then it's lawsuit time. In the big picture, though, its probably better not to have such a mess on one's resume. Maybe better to just start looking for a new job now so the OPer is in control of leaving, not the anti-rights, conclusion-jumping employer.
    Last edited by Citizen; 12-14-2015 at 10:26 PM.
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    Low to no profile if I were you. Unless, of course, you have another job in the works. It is always a tough choice to make when on private property, food and shelter, or a properly holstered handgun stored securely in your POV...on that fellas private property.
    "I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bloodstone1311 View Post
    Well I just got called into HR because a coworker last week saw my pistol while I was out on lunch break at a local store. They are telling me they prohibit having a gun on company property and indirectly hinted my car was liable to be searched in the future. I would like some feedback from some more lawyerly types on this because I don't see where they can get away with that. It's a private automobile. I have never set foot out of the car on company property with it on.
    Reading your words, it seems that the "employer" may be giving you a second chance and nothing will be pursued if you "remember" that their policy prohibits guns.
    "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.
    It is AFAIK original to me. Compromise is failure on the installment plan, particularly when dealing with so intractable an opponent as ignorance. - Nightmare

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    They can't search your car without your permission. They can fire you for refusing to give permission. Searching your car without your consent would be a criminal act. Section 18.2-147 (which would apply if they enter with the intent to remove the gun they find in the car). Taking the gun would consitute grand larceny if it's worth more than $200, and would also be robbery if you're present and they take your personal property by threats, force, or intimidation.

    Enforcement is questionable, though, because it would require the cops to take you seriously, which they won't. However there are civil remedies for all that stuff if you have the gumption to sue.

    You might rather keep your job.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeSchaine View Post
    It's hard to believe that Va. law has no provisions for this. Several states have statutes that say a persons vehicle is immune from those workplace rules because it's privately owned. The so called "Parking Lot Laws."

    PDF of various state laws regarding employers and firearms.
    If you have any contact with the creator/owner of that document you might let him know that the entry for Utah is either out-of-date or simply misleading. Since 2009, most private employees in Utah cannot ban firearms from private cars parked in the company parking lot. The guns need to be out-of-sight and the car locked when not occupied. The exceptions are rare: religious employers, and a few employers who are able and willing to provide both truly secure parking lots and then secure storage for the guns not allowed into the parking lot, or non-secure parking at an alternate and reasonable location. This is covered in Utah Revised Statutes 34-45.

    Employers get liability protection.

    Maintaining or enforcing an employment policy contrary to this section can bring civil action from the State AG. Anyone "injured, physically or otherwise" as a result of such a policy can also bring private civil action. If the "injury" involves serious bodily injury or death, or if the violating employer has been previously notified of the violation by the AG, punitive damages can be awarded in addition to actual damages.

    Charles
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    Quote Originally Posted by bloodstone1311 View Post
    Well I just got called into HR because a coworker last week saw my pistol while I was out on lunch break at a local store. They are telling me they prohibit having a gun on company property and indirectly hinted my car was liable to be searched in the future. I would like some feedback from some more lawyerly types on this because I don't see where they can get away with that. It's a private automobile. I have never set foot out of the car on company property with it on.
    So far as I've been able to determine, most companies large enough to have a professional HR department--including most all employers with a multi-State presence--have no-gun policies that reach into their parking lots including employees' vehicles parked in the parking lot. Some States have "Parking Lot Preemption" laws that prohibit such policies. Many do not.

    In some States, Workers' Comp laws may actually provide a perverse incentive to adopt such bans as employers' liability for conduct that required violating policies may be lower than for criminal or negligent conduct that didn't violate an explicit policy. The complexity of federal employment laws also means that many employers rely upon HR Organizations, who in turn rely on probably a very small number of specialized law firms primarily located in the NYC to DC area for safe harbor employment policy templates. A couple of NYC law firms put "No Guns" policies into the standard template and very few employers who pay for those templates are going to alter them short of being legally compelled to do so.

    Actual enforcement of corporate parking lot gun bans may vary widely. Some 20 years ago when my then employer moved from no policy on guns to a policy banning guns from all company property I questioned the HR director who said they had no intention of banning guns from the parking lot, only from the interior of the buildings. Ignoring why trusted employees couldn't be trusted to safely carry guns into the office, I pointed out that the clear language of the policy banned guns in private cars in the parking lot. The policy was never changed, but was never enforced in the parking lot so far as I know. In fact, on more than one occasion that same Director of HR was a member of the company shooting team for the local "Corporate Games" and the entire team would bring their guns to work to go do a little practice at lunch time.

    Another employer had the same policy of banning guns in the parking lot. It had been flowed down from corporate headquarters on the east coast. Local security made clear they had no interest nor desire in enforcing the policy, and knew full well that it was common for employees to have guns in their cars in the parking lot.

    Utah passed Parking Lot Preemption in 2009 to ban such discriminatory and dangerous employment policies for most private sector employers. Most of our (non-federal) public sector employees had enjoyed even greater RKBA protections for several years prior. Even those who come down in favor of "property" over "life" should concede on the potential conflicting property rights between a (mostly) uncontrolled parking lot and the interior of your locked, private automobile.

    But for now, it appears that in Virginia your employer has the full legal ability to terminate you for violating this policy. This leaves you to either comply with the policy by either leaving the gun at home (with all the risks and inconvenience that entails) or by finding non-company property on which to park (may be highly non-trivial, I know), or to consider your car on company property a "deep concealment" situation where the gun isn't going to be discovered via casual observation and where your speech and conduct doesn't give anyone any reason to go looking too far. Or, to try to find employment with out such a policy...and good luck with that unless you can find some small, local employer who needs your skills and happens to be ok with guns.

    Obviously, a standard glove box on center console is not a secure location to keep a gun as any idiot with a rock can get to it. Some type of in-car lock box or gun safe is highly recommended anytime a gun is left unattended in a car.

    Good luck.

    Charles
    All experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. Thank heaven we do not permit a few to impose anarchy.

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    Regular Member TFred's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by user View Post
    They can't search your car without your permission. They can fire you for refusing to give permission. Searching your car without your consent would be a criminal act. Section 18.2-147 (which would apply if they enter with the intent to remove the gun they find in the car). Taking the gun would consitute grand larceny if it's worth more than $200, and would also be robbery if you're present and they take your personal property by threats, force, or intimidation.

    Enforcement is questionable, though, because it would require the cops to take you seriously, which they won't. However there are civil remedies for all that stuff if you have the gumption to sue.

    You might rather keep your job.
    If I was going to get fired, I think I would prefer to get fired for refusing to allow my employer to search my vehicle than for violating a company policy.

    Of course at the end of the day, you're unemployed either way, so neither is a great choice.

    We need a sympathetic case to run through the General Assembly once McAuliffe is gone.

    TFred

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    Another important question is do they own (or exclusively lease) the parking lot?

    My last two jobs have been in office buildings where we were not the only tenant. Both had parking garages that were maintained by the property manager (not my employer) and were open to the public. Neither of my employers had or have any authority over the parking garage.
    Alma 43:47 - "And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed...."
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    Quote Originally Posted by grylnsmn View Post
    Another important question is do they own (or exclusively lease) the parking lot?

    My last two jobs have been in office buildings where we were not the only tenant. Both had parking garages that were maintained by the property manager (not my employer) and were open to the public. Neither of my employers had or have any authority over the parking garage.
    Very good point, and something to check out. I suspect this applies mostly to the urban areas, but not so much in most of the land area of the state.

    TFred

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    Quote Originally Posted by grylnsmn View Post
    Another important question is do they own (or exclusively lease) the parking lot?

    My last two jobs have been in office buildings where we were not the only tenant. Both had parking garages that were maintained by the property manager (not my employer) and were open to the public. Neither of my employers had or have any authority over the parking garage.
    This may or may not make much difference legally.

    Over-riding of course, is the "at will" status of employment. The OP can be fired for any or no reason at all other than legally-prohibited discriminatory reasons. Actively getting on the wrong side of your HR Department is not necessarily the best way to maintain nor advance one's career regardless of technical compliance with any workplace policies.

    Even ignoring that, if the employer leases some number of spaces for its employees to park in the parking garage, then the employer may well maintain sufficient "control" of the garage that employee conduct in the garage may continue to be subject to employment policies even if the employer isn't the only or exclusive user of the parking structure.

    In the Utah case, Hansen v. America Online, 2004 the Utah Supreme Court held that at-will employment permitted the termination of employees who violated the employer's "no gun" policy in a parking garage in which the employer had leased exclusive use of a certain number of spots for its employees. While not binding in Virginia, and Virginia may have different laws, the legal reasoning may be useful to consider generally.

    One does cynically wonder what position the same employer may have taken had an employee been injured in that parking garage and filed a Workers' Comp claim or other civil action against the employer. In fact, I wonder if this might be the proper approach for anyone in a similar situation to take before the issue of a private firearm comes up. Ask the HR and/or facilities department whether the parking structure is considered "company property" for purposes of Workers' Compensation claims or similar issues.

    The question is really, "When do I enter and leave company property? As I pull into the parking garage? As I walk through the building door? Into the rented office? Somewhere in between?"

    Getting the answer in writing--such as via email--might prove useful should the employer turn around later and take a different position under different circumstances.

    Charles
    Last edited by utbagpiper; 12-16-2015 at 12:08 PM.
    All experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. Thank heaven we do not permit a few to impose anarchy.

    "With Anarchy as an aim and as a means, Communism becomes possible."
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    Regular Member bloodstone1311's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by user View Post
    They can't search your car without your permission. They can fire you for refusing to give permission. Searching your car without your consent would be a criminal act. Section 18.2-147 (which would apply if they enter with the intent to remove the gun they find in the car). Taking the gun would consitute grand larceny if it's worth more than $200, and would also be robbery if you're present and they take your personal property by threats, force, or intimidation.

    Enforcement is questionable, though, because it would require the cops to take you seriously, which they won't. However there are civil remedies for all that stuff if you have the gumption to sue.

    You might rather keep your job.
    Good points...also I have it in a large padded envelope now....not sure if it's a valid point or not but I believe opening another person's mail to be a federal offense if it's not accidental,adding to the lawsuit potential if they want to get nasty. Truck is locked although the rear window latch is broken,it can be broken into with minimal effort.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bloodstone1311 View Post
    Good points...also I have it in a large padded envelope now....not sure if it's a valid point or not but I believe opening another person's mail to be a federal offense if it's not accidental,adding to the lawsuit potential if they want to get nasty. Truck is locked although the rear window latch is broken,it can be broken into with minimal effort.
    A padded envelope, or any envelope/box/carton does not make it "mail". Putting it inside a pillowcase does not make it bedding. Take a hint from the co-worker and make sure it is never visible while entering/on/departing company property or job site.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bc.cruiser View Post
    A padded envelope, or any envelope/box/carton does not make it "mail". Putting it inside a pillowcase does not make it bedding. Take a hint from the co-worker and make sure it is never visible while entering/on/departing company property or job site.
    The gun has never been seen on company property. The envelope is stamped and to all that can observe it is an unopened package although a box sealed up would be better. I don't know where you're getting that I should take a hint from a coworker,no coworker said anything to me,they reported seeing me on lunch with it, OFF COMPANY PROPERTY!

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    Quote Originally Posted by bloodstone1311 View Post
    The gun has never been seen on company property. The envelope is stamped and to all that can observe it is an unopened package although a box sealed up would be better. I don't know where you're getting that I should take a hint from a coworker,no coworker said anything to me,they reported seeing me on lunch with it, OFF COMPANY PROPERTY!
    forgive this observation...
    you initially reported you were talked to by HR and to paraphrase...reminded about company policy no guns on their property.
    you have been provided different perspectives about your situation which the majority of them centering around ~ you can lose your employment without immediate recourse.

    now you are venturing on about some scheme of envelope/box and so forth to store a firearm in your vehicle, which apparently can't be adequately secured according to you, while on company property, a company which has gone out of their way to ensure you have been made patently clear their organizational policy does not tolerate a firearms on their property.

    is your ultimate goal to get terminated with cause? if this is your cause de celebre and you just flat out insist on keeping your firearm in a vehicle which can't be secured do it but park on the bloody street.

    bottom line, you have raised the question, it has been answered and now you are rambling about schemes to thwart HR...won't happen and your tired butt will be out w/o any ability to draw unemployment since you will be fired w/cause.

    ipse
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    Quote Originally Posted by bloodstone1311 View Post
    The gun has never been seen on company property. The envelope is stamped and to all that can observe it is an unopened package although a box sealed up would be better. ...
    Interesting idea. 18 USC Section 1701: Obstruction of mails generally reads:

    Whoever knowingly and willfully obstructs or retards the passage of the mail, or any carrier or conveyance carrying the mail, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

    I would have guessed this only applied once the mail had been handled by the post office. But my cursory research indicates that may not be needed.

    However, be careful, 18 USC 1705 generally prohibits the mailing of handguns. Violation can result in a 2 year prison sentence.

    Not sure I'd want to trade violation of a private employment policy for a violation of a US postal service felony.

    If I were to choose to violate a private employment policy by keeping a gun inside my car while parked in a company parking lot, I think my choice of storage containers would be an in car gun safe of one kind or another. $50 will get you one that will at least take more than a rock to open.

    This protects the gun from casual theft such as a smash and grab. Some of the nicer safes bolt into the car in such a way that a thief is going to be more or less obliged to steal the car and then use tools and a little time to get the gun out.

    Any such safe offers a second level of protection against a company search of the car. If they are looking for guns you are probably going to get disciplined to one degree or another for either refusing the search or when you open the lock box and they see the gun. But if they are looking to see if you've got the missing company laptop in your car, they are going to be hard pressed to argue that you are or should be obliged to open up a lock box that is obviously too small to hold the laptop. Of course, if they are looking for something no larger than your handgun....

    Your best bet, employment-wise, of course, is to comply with company policy by either leaving the gun home or by parking somewhere other than the company parking lot.

    Assuming you are not violating any laws, I won't fault you for deciding that your life during the daily commute is more important than some policy about what you can have inside your private car. But in that case, your best bet is to keep a low profile at work relative to the gun policy, never give them a reason to search your car, and keep your firearm well out of sight anytime you are anywhere near company property. That probably means finding someplace to stop on the way to and from work to move the gun into its deep concealed (and ideally locked) location. Just remember that with at-will employment and no State laws against such policies, you are placing your employment at some level of risk if you take any course other than complying fully with the policy.

    Best of luck.

    Charles
    All experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. Thank heaven we do not permit a few to impose anarchy.

    "With Anarchy as an aim and as a means, Communism becomes possible."
    --Marxist.org

    "Communism and Anarchy [are], a necessary complement to one another. "
    --PETER KROPOTKIN, "Anarchism: its philosophy and ideal." 1898.

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    Quote Originally Posted by utbagpiper View Post
    Interesting idea. 18 USC Section 1701: Obstruction of mails generally reads:

    Whoever knowingly and willfully obstructs or retards the passage of the mail, or any carrier or conveyance carrying the mail, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

    I would have guessed this only applied once the mail had been handled by the post office. But my cursory research indicates that may not be needed.

    However, be careful, 18 USC 1705 generally prohibits the mailing of handguns. Violation can result in a 2 year prison sentence.

    Not sure I'd want to trade violation of a private employment policy for a violation of a US postal service felony.

    If I were to choose to violate a private employment policy by keeping a gun inside my car while parked in a company parking lot, I think my choice of storage containers would be an in car gun safe of one kind or another. $50 will get you one that will at least take more than a rock to open.

    This protects the gun from casual theft such as a smash and grab. Some of the nicer safes bolt into the car in such a way that a thief is going to be more or less obliged to steal the car and then use tools and a little time to get the gun out.

    Any such safe offers a second level of protection against a company search of the car. If they are looking for guns you are probably going to get disciplined to one degree or another for either refusing the search or when you open the lock box and they see the gun. But if they are looking to see if you've got the missing company laptop in your car, they are going to be hard pressed to argue that you are or should be obliged to open up a lock box that is obviously too small to hold the laptop. Of course, if they are looking for something no larger than your handgun....

    Your best bet, employment-wise, of course, is to comply with company policy by either leaving the gun home or by parking somewhere other than the company parking lot.

    Assuming you are not violating any laws, I won't fault you for deciding that your life during the daily commute is more important than some policy about what you can have inside your private car. But in that case, your best bet is to keep a low profile at work relative to the gun policy, never give them a reason to search your car, and keep your firearm well out of sight anytime you are anywhere near company property. That probably means finding someplace to stop on the way to and from work to move the gun into its deep concealed (and ideally locked) location. Just remember that with at-will employment and no State laws against such policies, you are placing your employment at some level of risk if you take any course other than complying fully with the policy.

    Best of luck.

    Charles
    I understand everything being said in this exchange. In response more to the previous comment,no I do not want to be fired. I also do not want to have my right to self defense infringed upon because of a moronic politically correct policy. It's hardly practical for me to try to park off the company p
    property. Explain 'adequate storage' when they can search the car and force the opening of locked containers or fire me if I don't. They don't need a reason to search,they will make one up.They will search a car and say they thought the person pocketed a product. This company has no problem playing dirty with employees. According to everything I'm seeing, I'm pretty much screwed. If they want to press it it's either I'm unarmed or fired it appears.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by bloodstone1311 View Post
    I understand everything being said in this exchange. In response more to the previous comment,no I do not want to be fired. I also do not want to have my right to self defense infringed upon because of a moronic politically correct policy. It's hardly practical for me to try to park off the company p
    property. Explain 'adequate storage' when they can search the car and force the opening of locked containers or fire me if I don't. They don't need a reason to search,they will make one up.They will search a car and say they thought the person pocketed a product. This company has no problem playing dirty with employees. According to everything I'm seeing, I'm pretty much screwed. If they want to press it it's either I'm unarmed or fired it appears.
    Well then, I guess your up chits creek. As I noted before, seek out new employment.

  24. #24
    Regular Member SouthernBoy's Avatar
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    So is your coworker still alive?
    In the final seconds of your life, just before your killer is about to dispatch you to that great eternal darkness, what would you rather have in your hand? A cell phone or a gun?

    Si vis pacem, para bellum.

    America First!

  25. #25
    Regular Member bloodstone1311's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SouthernBoy View Post
    So is your coworker still alive?

    Lol I don't know who it was...maybe an office worker(carpet walker) that doesn't work in my dept.

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