Employment: The Employer's Legal Resource - February 2009 - Special Edition
DO YOU HAVE A POLICY PROHIBITING EMPLOYEES or others FROM KEEPING FIREARMS IN THEIR VEHICLES?
COURT REINSTATES OKLAHOMA LAW FORBIDDING SUCH POLICIES.
In 2004 and 2005, the Oklahoma Legislature passed laws that made it illegal for an employer or business owner to forbid persons from keeping firearms and ammunition in a locked vehicle on company property. In 2007, the federal district court in Tulsa entered an injunction prohibiting the enforcement of the laws, finding they were preempted by OSHA. That decision was appealed.
Today, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision, lifting the injunction.
What does this mean? Now that the injunction has been lifted, the original laws are enforceable. Specifically, a "person, property owner, tenant, employer or business entity" cannot maintain, establish, or enforce any policy or rule prohibiting persons from having firearms and ammunition in a locked vehicle on company property. The types of firearms an employer must allow on its property includes loaded concealed handguns (so long as the individual has a concealed weapon license); clip and magazine loaded rifles and shotguns; and unloaded pistols, rifles, and shotguns. Any of the unloaded firearms may be in the immediate vicinity of ammunition, and there are no restrictions placed on the number of firearms allowed.
What do you need to know . . . today? You can be sued if you have a policy or rule that “has the effect of prohibiting any person, except a convicted felon, from transporting and storing firearms in a locked motor vehicle, or from transporting and storing firearms locked in or locked to a motor vehicle on any property set aside for any motor vehicle.” Okla. Stat. tit. 21, § 1289.7a. If that person wins (apparently by simply proving the existence of such a policy or rule), the property owner or employer shall be made to pay actual damages including costs and attorneys fees.
Questions? Let us know.
By Jon E. Brightmire, firstname.lastname@example.org and Kristen L. Brightmire, email@example.com.