Guns in the Workplace Policies

In yesterday’s Advisor, we heard from attorney Allan H. Weitzman concerning policies that keep up with the times. Today we’ll hear from him about gun policies and EEO.

Weitzman, a partner with the Proskauer law firm, offered his tips at the SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition in Las Vegas.

Guns in the Workplace

Weitzman points to the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA):

Employers must provide a workplace that is “free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.”

State and Local Gun Laws

Before implementing a ban on weapons, check state and local laws, says Weitzman. Many states have enacted laws that prohibit employers from enforcing any workplace policy that would prevent their employees from storing guns in their cars on a company lot.

Weapons Policy

If an employer decides to ban weapons in the workplace, the policy should:

  • Define terms such as “weapon,” “firearm,” and “possess.”
  • Clearly state the policy’s purpose.
  • State that, despite state and local law provisions that allow the carrying of concealed weapons, the employer has elected to prohibit weapons on its property.
  • Clarify whether the policy applies only to employees or to all persons entering the employer’s premises.
  • Explain which areas are covered.

The policy should also contain:

  • A description of the employer’s policy on workplace searches
  • A statement that employees have no reasonable expectation of privacy in their personal work areas

You should obtain a signed, written acknowledgment of the policy from employees.

Equal Employment Opportunity Policy Statement:

Equal Employment Opportunity has been, and will continue to be, a fundamental principle at XYZ, where employment is based upon personal capabilities and qualifications without discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, age, national origin, disability, genetic information, or any other protected characteristic as established by law.

This policy of Equal Employment Opportunity applies to all policies and procedures relating to recruitment and hiring, compensation, benefits, termination, and all other terms and conditions of employment.

Employees’ questions or concerns should be referred to the human resources department, which has overall responsibility for this policy and maintains reporting and monitoring procedures.

Appropriate disciplinary action may be taken against any employee willfully violating this policy.

Elements of an Anti-Harassment Policy:

  • Include sex and all other protected characteristics (check local and state laws)
  • Specifically state EEOC’s definitions.
  • Define other forms of harassment.
  • Give examples of harassing behaviors.
  • Define supervisory responsibility.
  • Outline penalties for engaging in harassment.
  • Set forth clear, internal complaint procedure(s), with multiple intake points:
    • Not just the employee’s supervisor!
    • Not “any” supervisor.
  • State the employer’s investigation obligations.
  • Provide only a limited confidentiality assurance.
  • Include an antiretaliation provision.

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