Newsletters

GUNS IN THE WORKPLACE
A Tough Time for Florida Employers

7/5/2008 -

In 1950, Betty Hutton was playing the lead role in “Annie Get Your Gun” and entertaining audiences from coast to coast to coast, singing songs like “Doing What Comes Naturally,” “They Say it’s Wonderful” and “You Can’t Get a Man With a Gun.” Back then, Annie may have carried her gun along with her, but if she lived in Florida today, all she would have to do is go out to the employee parking lot.

As of July 1, 2008, a new requirement is in effect for most Florida employers. Its official name is the “Preservation & Protection of the Right to Keep & Bear Arms in Motor Vehicles Act of 2008,” which some have called the “Bring Your Guns to Work” law. Many employers have serious concerns about the effect of this law since a major responsibility of management is to prohibit violent behavior at work and this new requirement may make avoiding workplace violence more difficult.

In a new development, the Orlando Sentinel reported on July 3rd that Walt Disney World is invoking a particular exemption and will continue to prohibit guns on Disney property for most employees. At Seay Management, we are concerned about the effect of this new requirement on workplace violence and will keep you posted on the challenges to it by the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Retail Federation.

Until then, however, this new requirement prohibits employers in Florida from stopping workers, independent contractors, volunteers, and interns from keeping firearms in their locked vehicles on their property, provided they are licensed to carry the weapons. Employers still retain the right to prohibit weapons at work in places other than their locked vehicles, a policy that we support and recommend. Unless something changes, we recommend that your immediate action checklist should include the following:

• Ensuring your employment application does not contain any questions about whether a job seeker has a concealed weapons permit.

• Training supervisors about the new protected group.

• Removing any reference in your employee handbook to a gun ban in vehicles.

• Continue to implement and maintain your policies on “Zero Tolerance for Violence” and “Weapons at Work,” with the new language.

Here are two policies that we recommend you include in your employee handbook, in order to meet the duty and obligation of avoiding violence at work. We have used the word “company,” but you can substitute “bank,” “agency,” “ministry,” “medical office” or other word that might be appropriate.

WEAPONS AT WORK

Employees are not allowed to have weapons such as knives, guns or rifles in their possession while at work, unless these weapons are necessary to perform the job -- such as security guard -- and unless authorized in advance by management in writing. “Possession” is defined to mean in lockers or tool boxes, in an employee’s personal possession, or anywhere else on company property, except as outlined below. There is an exception for maintaining guns in a locked personal vehicle, for those persons who are properly licensed. Employees who violate this policy will be subject to immediate dismissal.

WORKPLACE VIOLENCE ZERO TOLERANCE POLICY

In order to facilitate the safety and security of our workplace, our company has adopted a Zero Tolerance Policy for workplace violence. Consistent with this policy, acts or threats of physical violence, including intimidation, harassment, and/or coercion, that involve or affect the company or that occur on company property will not be tolerated. Examples of workplace violence include, but are not limited to, the following:

• All threats or acts of violence occurring on company premises, regardless of the relationship between the company and the parties involved in the incident;

• All threats or acts of violence occurring off the company’s premises involving someone who is acting in the capacity of a representative of the company;

• All threats or acts of violence occurring off the company’s premises involving an employee of the company if the threats or acts affect the legitimate interests of the company

Every employee and every person on company property is encouraged to report incidents of threats or acts of physical violence of which he or she may become aware. The report should be made to your supervisor or any member of management.

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Please call or email your Seay Management consultant if you have a question about this new policy, about violence at work or any other Human Resources Management issue. We appreciate having you as a friend and client of firm and are always glad to talk with you. And be sure to visit our website at www.seay.us to review prior editions of the Seay Management Report and to access other interesting information about Seay Management Consultants and our Human Resources Management services.



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