That's What She Said

From My Cold, Dead Hands

You might have heard that the Supreme Court recently threw out the District of Columbia’s decades-long ban on handguns. Of course, there are limitations. If you are mentally insane or a convicted felon, then you’re out of luck. So, many of our favorites on The Office probably still can’t pack heat into the Capitol — thank goodness.

But with this change in policy, many of our clients have asked if we are going to start seeing employees trying to carry more than the normal baggage to work. Of course we will. The media have covered it but good, and employees (especially the ones with time on their hands) are looking to establish boundaries. (Why does it sound like I’m talking about raising my kids?)

That said, chances are, unless your boss is the late Charlton Heston, we can still frown on guns at work. The issue is quite simple for private employers. Since the workplace is your private property, your aspiring deputies do not have a constitutional right to have a gun at work. Most of you probably have a policy prohibiting employees from bringing firearms to the workplace. If not, ink one out next time to prevent any shot an employee might take at that argument.

There are sticky issues — like can you fire an employee who keeps the gun locked in his car while at work? What about an employee who serves as a volunteer for the local sheriff in her off time? There can be a lot of legal mumbo jumbo, but the bottom line is a practical question that I ask my clients: Which lawsuit would you rather defend? The lawsuit filed by the gun-toting employee whom we canned because we don’t want any stray bullets hitting our patrons and her co-workers? Or, the lawsuit brought by the survivors of a victim who caught your employee’s stray? The policy choice is simple. Your employee who wants to sue you for not letting him carry a gun will be shooting blanks before the jury. To make this decision as risk-free as possible, double-check so your policies don’t invite the heat!