Can Business Restrict Whether Employees and Patrons Carry Concealed?

February 21, 2017

Federal and state job safety laws require employers to make reasonable efforts to provide a safe workplace. In order to minimize their own legal risk and promote a safe work environment, employers often will implement workplace violence policies that include a ban on weapons at the workplace.

Currently, there is no federal law that regulates weapons at private workplaces. Beginning with Oklahoma, many states have recently enacted so-called “guns-at-work” laws. These laws, which are typically designed to protect employees’ individual rights to possess concealed firearms, vary in terms of their restrictions.

Only 18 states have no law regarding concealed carry in businesses. There are no states that require a business to allow concealed carry in their place of business or parking lots.

Many states require employers to post notices in prominent places if they ban weapons at the workplace. 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.

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.