Approximately forty states, including Ohio and Kentucky, have laws that allow individuals to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Typically, these laws place some restrictions on where concealed weapons can be carried. For example, in Ohio, concealed weapons are banned by statute from government buildings, schools, universities, day care centers and bars/restaurants with liquor licenses.
What is not always clear with concealed carry laws is the extent to which they place limits on individuals to carry concealed weapons in the workplace. In many cases, concealed carry laws do not explicitly ban concealed weapons from a workplace, but do allow employers to ban concealed weapons from their property or premises. However, some states limit an employer’s right to restrict employees from storing concealed weapons in vehicles that are parked on the employer’s property. In almost all instances, if an employer wishes to prohibit employees from bringing concealed weapons into the workplace, the employer must place appropriate notices throughout the workplace and, in some states, those notices must contain specific language defined by statute. (This (above left) is an example of a notice that the Ohio Attorney General recommends.)
Where a business is open to the general public and the business wishes to prohibit both employees and patrons from bringing concealed weapons onto the premises, the business must post a sign in a conspicuous location indicating that such weapons are prohibited. Where a business posts such a prohibition, in some states, a person who then knowingly brings a concealed weapon onto the business property in violation of a posted notice may be criminally prosecuted for carrying a concealed weapon.
Whether or not employers post notices prohibiting concealed weapons from the business or the workplace, employers should consider including a written policy within their employee handbook or within their general employment policies that makes it clear that employees are prohibited from carrying concealed weapons onto the employer’s property and into the workplace. This policy should be clearly conveyed to employees in orientation and subsequent training. The policy should specifically identify those areas of the workplace in which an employee is prohibited from carrying a concealed weapon, keeping in mind that some state’s limit an employer’s ability to restrict an employee’s right to keep a weapon stored in their personal vehicle while on the employer’s property.
Given that the law in this area is constantly evolving, prudent employers should periodically review their policies and practices related to concealed weapons with their counsel, revising such policies where appropriate.