by Albert L. Vreeland
Beginning August 1, employees with a valid Alabama concealed weapon permit may keep a firearm in their vehicles at work. Also, during hunting season, employees with a valid Alabama hunting license may store an unloaded rifle or shotgun in their vehicles at work. The change is a result of a law signed by Governor Robert Bentley on May 22.
The hunting season provision doesn’t apply to employees who have been convicted of a violent crime or domestic violence, are subject to a restraining order, have been previously committed to a psychiatric hospital, or have committed prior acts of workplace violence or made violent threats.
If an employee has a concealed weapon permit or a hunting license, his car must be parked in a location approved by the employer. The firearm must be out of sight while the employee is in the vehicle. If the employee is not in the vehicle, the firearm must be out of sight and locked inside the car or in a secure compartment affixed to the car.
If an employer believes an employee presents a safety risk to himself or others, the employer may ask the employee if he has a weapon in his vehicle. Also, you may confirm that an employee with a gun in his vehicle is following the law’s requirements for securing the weapon. The law implies that employers can’t inquire about compliance without a concern for safety, but employers can take disciplinary action against an employee who doesn’t follow the law’s requirements.
Employers may not take an adverse action against an employee who is complying with the law’s provisions solely because he has a firearm in his vehicle. If an employer does take action against an employee for having a gun in his car, the employee can sue for lost wages.
The law gives employers immunity from lawsuits resulting from an employee bringing a firearm into the workplace. Also, employers don’t have to police their parking lots or ensure that employees are following the law.
Before the law was passed, employers had the right to determine whether guns were allowed on their property and, if so, by whom and under what circumstances. Under the new law, employers still have the right to prohibit employees, including those with concealed weapon permits, from possessing weapons in their facilities or while on duty.
Albert L. Vreeland is an editor of Alabama Employment Law Letter and a founding member and managing shareholder of Lehr Middlebrooks & Vreeland, P.C., in Birmingham, Alabama. If you have questions about this topic, you can reach him at 205-323-9266 or email@example.com.