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Guns and the Workplace

February 8, 2017

For some, just the mention of those words in the same sentence brings to mind a number of horrible scenarios. Others immediately bristle at the idea of perceived infringement of “my right to own a gun.” In between those two reactions are many more that range from fear of workplace violence to balancing Constitutionally protected rights with other concerns.

In our most recent Quarterly Breakfast Briefing (“QBB”), we discussed an employer’s right to limit and even prohibit guns in the workplace. We also discussed common misconceptions regarding gun laws, including when and where a concealed weapon permit holder can and cannot carry a concealed weapon in South Carolina and North Carolina.

Many employers summarily conclude that a “zero tolerance” weapons policy is the best policy, and that implementing such a policy settles the issue. However, employers should also consider a number of factors when deciding what type of policy is the best fit for their place of business and workplace, including whether their policy is consistent with state and federal law and whether additional steps are needed to reduce the risk of workplace violence, even when a zero tolerance policy is implemented.

For example, additional steps are necessary to prohibit guns in the workplace when the workplace is open to the public. Similarly, most employers in South Carolina and North Carolina cannot effectively/may not be able to prohibit an employee from keeping a firearm in the employee’s personal vehicle when the vehicle is not on the employer’s real property, even if the employee is on company time. These are only two of many issues employers should consider when developing, implementing, and enforcing a “workplace violence” or “weapons in the workplace” policy.

If you would like to view the slides from our most recent QBB, please click here. And, for more information or assistance with your workplace violence or weapons in the workplace policy, please contact any member of the Nexsen Pruet Employment and Labor Law Group.

Our Insights are published as a service to clients and friends. They are intended to be informational and do not constitute legal advice regarding any specific situation.