BPHR’s Director Lisa Salcido, SPHR, SHRM-SCP provides answers to your pressing HR questions.
Question: In light of the recent mass shooting and subsequent gun control debate, we are concerned that some employees may have permits and access to legal guns. Can we ban weapons in our workplace?
Answer: Providing a safe working environment without interfering with your employees’ right to bear arms can be tricky. Federal law does not regulate guns in the workplace so we must refer to state law. Your business has locations in New York and New Jersey and is not in an industry or facility that impacts public safety. Neither New York nor New Jersey explicitly allows nor prohibits employers from banning weapons in the workplace. In addition, state law also dictates whether an employer can restrict an employee from storing a firearm in their privately owned vehicle while it is parked on company property. Again, neither New York nor New Jersey have a law addressing parking lot gun storage.
Without specific legislation regulating weapons in your workplace, you are certainly within your rights to implement a policy prohibiting weapons. This ban should be part of a broader zero-tolerance safety policy that outlines your company’s process for identifying threats, reporting acts of violence and taking security precautions. Be clear that employees will be disciplined or terminated for violating the policy.
You may also want to consider training your employees to be sure they understand and are able to follow your safety procedures. Your local police department may be willing to conduct safety instruction or provide guidance regarding your policies. Security companies have consultants available if you are concerned about a particular person, threat or situation.
Employers can face legal liabilities if workplace violence risks are not minimized. Do not wait until something happens, be proactive and commit to providing a safe working environment through policy, security measures and training.
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