On March 21, 2017, a new gun law went into effect in Ohio prohibiting businesses and employers from adopting and enforcing policies that prohibit concealed-carry permit holders from transporting or storing a firearm in the permit holder’s motor vehicle while on the business’ or employers’ property. Specifically, R.C. 2923.1210(A) states:
A business entity, property owner, or public or private employer may not establish, maintain, or enforce a policy or rule that prohibits or has the effect of prohibiting a person who has been issued a valid concealed handgun license from transporting or storing a firearm or ammunition when both of the following conditions are met:
(1) Each firearm and all of the ammunition remains inside the person’s privately owned motor vehicle while the person is physically present inside the motor vehicle, or each firearm and all of the ammunition is locked within the trunk, glove box, or other enclosed compartment or container within or on the person’s privately owned motor vehicle;
(2) The vehicle is in a location where it is otherwise permitted to be.
In other words, if an employee with a valid concealed handgun license keeps his or her firearm in a locked compartment in his or her vehicle, the employer cannot discipline or terminate that employee for bringing the firearm onto its property.
Before this law was enacted, employers could legally create rules, policies or practices prohibiting employees from possessing firearms anywhere on their property – even if the firearm was safely locked in the employee’s vehicle. The employer could then discharge any employee who violated the company rule, policy or practice. See Plona v. UPS, 558 F.3d 478, 481 (2009) (holding that the company was within its rights to prohibit its employees from possessing firearms in the parking area under R.C. 2923.126(C)). Although an employee without a concealed handgun license is not protected by the new law, and an employer may still prohibit an employee from removing a firearm from his or her vehicle while on the company’s premises, from carrying a firearm into any building owned by the employer, and from carrying firearms in a motor vehicle owned by the employer, the new law limits an employer’s ability to prohibit firearms on its property.
Employers should review and amend their existing firearms or safety policies to ensure that they do not conflict with the rights granted to concealed handgun license holders under the new law. In light of these changes, employers should also review their workplace violence policies to ensure they prohibit violence and threats of violence in the workplace. For assistance in reviewing or amending your policies and procedures, please contact your Stark & Knoll attorney, or Harold Schwarz at firstname.lastname@example.org, (330) 572-1316.