Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Attorney: Oklahoma Employers Should Update Firearm Policies

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Attorney: Oklahoma Employers Should Update Firearm Policies

Article excerpt

A federal appeals court decision upholding Oklahoma's law prohibiting employers from banning firearms in workers' locked cars in company parking lots means businesses need to take a fresh look at their employee policies and handbooks to make sure they comply with the law, says Oklahoma City employment law attorney Kevin Donelson.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the statute is not pre-empted by the federal worker-safety requirements of OSHA. Several states have passed laws similar to Oklahoma's.

Donelson, with the Fellers Snider law firm, said the lower court ruling in a legal challenge brought by several companies addressed the safety issue, concerning the idea of having guns around employees at the workplace.

An Oklahoma federal district court had issued an injunction against the law's enforcement, reasoning that it conflicted with and thwarted the overall purpose and objective of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

"The 10th Circuit came in and said, no, it's a police power, the state Legislature has spoken on it, and has provided provisions regarding having guns locked in your car at work," Donelson said.

Businesses haven't had much time to work with the law, because, as Donelson said, it was challenged soon after its passage by legislators.

"It seems to me that all employers need to review their policy and carefully review the amendments," he said.

Donelson said companies should make clear that they do not want firearms around workers.

"Having guns in the automobile locked on the premises is different than bringing guns into the place of business," he said.

It is important, Donelson said, that any newly adopted workplace policies ensure compliance with exactly what the law requires, that guns are to be locked in automobiles, and not brought into the premises.

"I think that the adoption of a policy regarding bringing firearms into the workplace is paramount," he said.

Businesses may want to go a step further, Donelson added.

"In light of this, employers may want to provide employees with training about detecting warning signs and how to avoid workplace violence," he said. …

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