PERSONNEL POLICIES: Banning guns at work? Not as simple in Kentucky as you might think.
For most employers, prohibiting employees from bringing deadly weapons like guns to work is a no-brainer. However, Kentucky employers must be careful about how they implement such policies. A specific Kentucky statute, KRS 237.110, provides that an employer cannot prohibit an employee from keeping a lawfully possessed firearm in his car.
Employer weapon policies
For various reasons, it's generally a good practice to have a policy that forbids employees from bringing deadly weapons to work. You don't want to deal with potential liability issues arising from accidents and injuries or worse that may stem from an employee's use of a deadly weapon. Generally speaking, such policies are legal, and you can choose to enforce them by disciplining employees who break the rules.
You should carefully consider the legal limits of a weapons policy, however. KRS 237.020(1) provides that Kentuckians have the right to purchase "rifles, shotguns, handguns, and any other firearms which they are permitted to purchase under federal law and the Kentucky Revised Statutes." More pertinent to employers is KRS 237.110(17), which provides that the "owner, business or commercial lessee, or manager of a private business enterprise . . . may prohibit persons holding concealed deadly weapons licenses from carrying concealed deadly weapons on the premises and may prohibit employees . . . holding concealed deadly weapons licenses from carrying concealed deadly weapons on the property of the employer." The legal right to prohibit concealed deadly weapons doesn’t apply to facilities renting or leasing housing.”
There are limits to your ability legally to prohibit employees and others from carrying concealed deadly weapons on your premises or property:
If the building or the premises are open to the public, the employer or business enterprise shall post signs on or about the premises if carrying concealed deadly weapons is prohibited.
. . .
A private but not a public employer may prohibit employees or other persons holding a concealed deadly weapons license from carrying concealed deadly weapons, or ammunition, or both in vehicles owned by the employer, but may not prohibit employees or other persons holding a concealed deadly weapons license from carrying concealed deadly weapons, or ammunition, or both in vehicles owned by the employee[emphasis added].
In simpler words, you can prohibit employees and others from carrying concealed deadly weapons on your premises (if you are open to the public, you must post signs to that effect). Private employers may prohibit employees from carrying concealed deadly weapons in company-owned vehicles. However, you may not prohibit employees from carrying lawfully owned concealed deadly weapons in their own cars.
Crack open your handbook or policy manual to see if you have a policy on deadly weapons at work. If you don't, you may want to consider contacting legal counsel for help in drafting a policy that complies with Kentucky law. If you do have such a policy, ensure (perhaps with legal assistance) that it doesn't run afoul of KRS Chapter 237.
You can find sample language for creating a workplace weapons policy in the subscribers' area of www.HRhero.com, the website for Kentucky Employment Law Letter. Just log in, scroll down to HR Tools, and click on "Sample Policies & Procedures." If you need help, call customer service at (800) 274-6774.
If you have any questions or need help, please contact any member of the Greenebaum Doll & McDonald Labor and Employment Department.
Copyright 2010 M. Lee Smith Publishers LLC
KENTUCKY EMPLOYMENT LAW LETTER does not attempt to offer solutions to individual problems but rather to provide information about current developments in Kentucky employment law. Questions about individual problems should be addressed to the employment law attorney of your choice.