Guns In The Workplace

May 31, 2016

Illinois’s Firearm Concealed Carry Act (FCCA), which overturned the ban on concealed weapons, has created new potential liabilities and risks for Illinois employers.

While the FCCA lists a number of locations where a concealed carry license holder is strictly prohibited from carrying a firearm (e.g. schools, government buildings, health care facilities, public playgrounds or parks, certain bars and restaurants, gaming facilities, professional sports stadiums, airports, amusements parks or museums), remaining property owners and employers retain the right to ban firearms from the workplace. In order to do so, employers must post a sign stating that the carrying of firearms is prohibited. In particular, the sign must be “clearly and conspicuously” posted at the entrance of the building or premises, be four inches by six inches in size, and use the uniform design as provided on the Illinois State Police Department’s website. Interestingly, the FCCA prohibits an employer from banning firearms in private vehicles brought into their parking lots, even including the parking lots on properties listed as prohibited areas.

In deciding whether or not to permit employees or visitors to carry concealed firearms in the workplace, employers must consider a few important issues:

  1. Increased liability for employers who allow concealed carry firearms on their properties from negligence claims, workers’ compensation claims, and other civil action from victims of workplace violence;
  2. Under the Illinois Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act, an employer may not refuse to hire or to discharge an individual because that individual uses lawful products off of the employer’s premises during non-working hours, which may include concealed carry of firearms; and
  3. How does this issue fit into company culture? A firearms policy should be part of a broader workplace violence prevention program, which could establish protocols involving threat assessment teams or security guards for dealing with imminent threats or apparent gun policy violations.