Homicide is the 5th leading cause of workplace fatalities in the US. Gun violence in the workplace is a matter of increasing focus and concern. At the same time, gun laws in the State of Michigan have “loosened” (for want of a better term) making Michigan a virtual “Shall Issue” state for concealed weapon permits and acknowledging a citizen’s “open carry” rights (i.e., you may carry a weapon, such as a pistol in plain sight).
Employers, at the same time, have to be concerned with their liability under Worker’s Compensation laws (covering violently inflicted injuries in the workplace), OSHA obligations to maintain a safe work environment and perhaps other legal theories creative lawyers may craft when an incident occurs.
As a consequence, employers SHOULD have policies in place to deal with the issue of firearms carried by employees or brought onto company property by employees of the company and others. Despite Michigan’s “Open Carry” and liberal Concealed Pistols licensing, the employers retain the right to control access to their premises and may maintain policies that ban guns from their plants and worksites. While there is a festering debate over whether or not employers can totally ban the bringing of guns onto the premises (many states have “parking lot” laws which allow employees to bring their guns into employer parking areas though they may be banned from the actual workplace) we believe that Michigan legal precedent permits employers to impose a total ban both in the workplace and the parking lots.
In order to protect the workplace and its workers, employers should adopt strong plainly stated policy which should be included in employee handbooks, provided directly to all employees in writing in addition to the handbooks and by posted signs (such as signs at all entrances which could state “no guns” and show a handgun and/or long gun enclosed by a circle with a slash through it (the international symbol for “no”).
If you need help crafting your policy or would like to discuss this issue further, one of our SB&R lawyers would be pleased to assist. But the takeaway is this: YOU CAN LEGALLY PROTECT YOUR WORKPLACE AND PROHIBIT THE PRESENCE OF FIREARMS ON YOUR PREMISES DESPITE MICHIGAN’S LIBERAL CARRY LAWS.