What does Alabama’s new gun bill mean for employers?
A blog published by Red Mountain Law Group providing legal updates and tips to businesses and individuals.
Posted on May 21, 2013
On May 20, 2013, the Alabama House voted 73-28 to approve SB 286, the Omnibus Gun Bill, that will affect employers’ ability to limit employees from carrying firearms onto business property. The bill is now on its way to Gov. Robert Bentley, who is expected to sign. [UPDATE: Governor Bentley signed the bill on May 22, 2013.]
The bill directly addresses the conflict that arisen between business owners who want to prohibit the presence of firearms on their property, and the rights of gun owners who want to be able to carry their firearms in their vehicles. The bill resolves this conflict strongly in favor of employees and gun rights.Under the bill, employers may not prohibit an employee from transporting or storing firearms in his or her private vehicles as long as the employee’s vehicle is parked in a permitted public or private parking area, and the firearm is out of sight and locked in the vehicle’s trunk, glove box, or other secured, affixed container. The bill also prohibits employers from asking employees whether they are transporting or storing firearms in their private vehicles. Moreover, the bill prohibits employers from taking an adverse action against an employee for transporting or storing a firearm in his or her vehicle if the employee has complied with the foregoing requirements of the bill.
The bill provides for serious remedies against employers who wrongfully terminate employees for transporting or storing firearms in their private vehicles while on an employers’ property. The bill provides for full recovery by wrongfully terminated employees, including reinstatement to their same positions held at termination, reinstatement of full fringe benefits and seniority rights, compensation for lost wages, benefits and other renumeration, and payment of reasonable attorneys’ fees and legal costs incurred.
The bill, however, allows an employer to regulate or prohibit an employee from carrying or possessing a firearm during and in the course of the employee’s official duties. It also allows a business owner to prohibit people licensed to carry firearms from bringing firearms onto the premises if a notice prohibiting concealed weapons is prominently posted at every entrance.
While the Business Council of Alabama fought against the bill, it scored a major concession that provides almost absolute civil immunity for criminal acts that occur on business premises. The bill states that business owners have no duty to guard against the criminal acts of a third party, whether it involves the use of a firearm or not, unless the business owner knows or has reason to know that the criminal acts are occurring or are about to occur on the premises that pose an imminent probability of harm to an invitee on the property.
The bottom line is that upon the bill being signed by Gov. Bentley, Alabama employers can no longer absolutely prohibit employees from bringing firearms on to the business premises, but must allow employees to bring firearms onto company property as long as the firearms are out of sight and locked away in the employees’ vehicles. However, Alabama employers may properly restrict employees from carrying firearms during the performance of their jobs.
Check your employee handbook to see if you have a policy prohibiting firearms on company property. If so, you will need to revise your policies to comply with Alabama law once the new law goes into effect.
DeWayne Pope LLC
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