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Over the last few years, a number of states have adopted laws which allow employees to keep a firearm in a personal vehicle, even if the vehicle is parked on company property — and even if the company has a policy against weapons in the workplace. As of August 1, 2018, states with such laws include: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin.
Although these “guns at work” laws fall under state concealed carry statutes, these laws apply only to weapons kept in personal vehicles. They do not prevent employers from restricting weapons in company vehicles.
Carry permit laws. Quite a few of these laws apply only to employees who have obtained a permit to carry a concealed weapon in their state. However, some laws prevent employers from asking whether an applicant or employee has such a permit, or (if such questions are allowed) prohibit the employer from making hiring or firing decisions based on such knowledge. A few states also prohibit employers from searching an employee’s vehicle for such weapons, although a policy may still allow searches for other reasons (such as stolen property or drugs).
Company property policy. Employers may still prohibit weapons anywhere else on company property, including outdoor areas and buildings. In short, employers may prohibit weapons anywhere on company property, with the sole exception of a personal vehicle that is parked in a company lot. Generally, the vehicle must be locked, and the firearms should not be visible from outside the vehicle. A policy should serve to inform employees of any restrictions.
Signage. If the business is open to members of the public (such as a retail outlet) the employer may also post a sign which informs the public that weapons are not permitted on the premises. The sample policies mentioned above include suggested language for such postings. State laws may also have guidelines for these signs, and might specify the size of the sign, the size of the font used, or even require that specific language be used. If members of the public enter the premises in violation of the sign, they can be asked to leave, and refusal to do so is essentially a form of unlawful trespassing.
Exemptions. Michigan exempts parking lots from designated “Pistol Free Areas” such as schools, day care centers, sports stadiums, churches, hospitals, and casinos. However, private employers may still prohibit weapons in parking lots.