Houston, TX — As of September 1, 2011, Texas employers can’t prohibit employees from bringing guns to work provided that they’re locked in privately-owned cars while on company property. Dubbed the “guns-at-work” bill, Senate Bill 321 requires that employees must store all lawfully possessed firearms and ammunition in a locked, privately owned vehicle within any parking area specifically designated for employees. There are some exceptions to the new law – school districts, private schools, chemical manufacturers and oil and gas refiners will retain the ability to form their own employee policies. Texas employers can also still prohibit firearms in their offices and in company owned or leased vehicles.
Some opponents to the bill voiced concerns about potential liability issues for employers. In response, SB 321 provides employers immunity from any civil liability involving a gun-related incident on company property under the new law, except in cases of gross negligence.
What isn’t clear is whether the employer can require that all firearms stored pursuant to the new law be unloaded. The penalty for violation or noncompliance with the new law is also not clearly defined. Both of these issues will have to be addressed in due time.
In the interim, employers should review and revise all policies related to firearms and ammunition before September 1st. If you have any questions regarding SB 321 please contact Tony Stergio at 713.850.4214 or email him.