Employers Beware: New Law Allowing Firearms On Your Property

by | Apr 14, 2008 | Law Alerts

Many employers have long promoted “Take Your Daughters to Work Day,” but they may be less receptive to what Florida’s Legislature will allow workers to bring to the job site if a new bill becomes law as expected on July 1.

Florida’s “Take Your Guns to Work Law” – officially known as CS/HB 503, Preservation and Protection of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms in Motor Vehicles Act of 2008 – essentially creates a new, protected class of employees: those who legally own a firearm and keep it locked in their motor vehicle.

Employers will have to scramble to examine their safety practices and policies – and potentially face a new era of litigation as the new law is tested by cases that no doubt will emerge in courts across the state.

The Florida Legislature signed and presented the bill which comprises the new law to Governor Crist April 9, 2008. Absent his veto, it takes effect July 1, 2008.

A Closer Look At Many Of The Law’s Requirements:

  1. It applies to public and private employers (with certain limited exceptions, including schools or any state correctional institution, and properties housing hazardous materials or security-sensitive matters);
  2. It applies to employees, independent contractors, volunteers, and interns, as well as customers and invitees;
  3. It provides a private right of action for customers, employees or invitees whose rights under the law have been violated. Courts shall award all reasonable personal costs and losses suffered as a result of a violation of this law. (The Attorney General may also enforce this law through civil or administrative action for damages, injunctive relief, civil penalties, and such other relief as may be appropriate under Fla. Stat. § 760.51);
  4. The law provides for the recovery of costs and attorneys’ fees to the prevailing party;
  5. Under the law, employers MAY NOT:
    • condition employment upon whether an employee or prospective employee has a concealed weapons license or agreement to prohibitions on keeping a legal firearm secured in a vehicle in a parking lot when such firearm is kept for lawful purposes;
    • terminate or otherwise discriminate against any employee or expel a customer or invitee for exercising his or her constitutional right to keep and bear arms or for exercising the right of self-defense, as long as the firearm is never exhibited on company property for any reason other than lawful defensive purposes;
    • prohibit any customer, employee or invitee from possessing and/or entering the employer’s parking lot because the motor vehicle contains a legal firearm carried for a lawful purpose and locked inside the vehicle;
    • ask employees, customers, or invitees whether they have a firearm locked insider a private motor vehicle in the employers’ parking lot;
    • take any action against customers, employees, or invitees as to any statements from any other person about the presence of a firearm in their motor vehicle in the employer’s parking lot; and
    • perform any search of motor vehicles of any customer, employee, or invitee parked in its parking lot to ascertain the presence of a firearm.
  6. The law provides that an employer will not be liable in a civil action based on actions or inactions taken in compliance with the law.

What Employers Should Consider Regarding The Law:

  1. How to maintain a safe work environment without violating the new law;
  2. Whether to provide additional training and safety; and
  3. Whether your policies and practices must be updated to remove provisions prohibiting employees from keeping firearms in their motor vehicles.

The Schwarzberg & Associates Employment Law and Compliance Team has extensive experience in developing effective policies, procedures and proactive responsive measures to deal with a myriad of workplace issues. Please do not hesitate to contact one of our members; Steve Schwarzberg or Lisa Kohring at (561) 659-3300 to obtain more information about our firm and its various employment law compliance and defense services.

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