Kentucky’s Legislature Authorizes Concealed Weapons at Work

June 21, 2006

Governor Fletcher recently signed a law that requires employers to allow concealed weapons at work.  The statute states that "No person, including but not limited to an employer, who is the owner, lessee, or occupant of real property shall prohibit any person who is legally entitled to possess a firearm from possessing a firearm, part of a firearm, ammunition, or ammunition component in a vehicle on the property."  (Emphasis added.)   Employees may remove firearms from vehicles for "self-defense, defense of another, defense of property, or as authorized by the owner, lessee, or occupant of the property."

The statute was intended to address an open issue under Kentucky law - can an employer prohibit weapons in the employer's parking lot if an employee is otherwise permitted to carry a weapon in a vehicle?  The new statute says "no" - firearms are permitted in any vehicle on company property.  More importantly, the statute creates a new cause of action against an employer if an employee is fired, demoted or otherwise disciplined for keeping a firearm in a vehicle on company property.  

The statute still allows an employer to prohibit firearms on its property other than in vehicles.  An existing statute also seems to allow employers to prohibit weapons in company-owned vehicles.  Beyond these exceptions, however, employers may not impose discipline for keeping firearms in employees' personal vehicles in the company parking lot.

The law goes into effect July 1, 2006.  The new statute is bound to create challenges in its application.  Conflicts with property rights and workplace violence policies are bound to occur.  For help in reviewing your workplace violence policies, or for drafting and reviewing such policies, please contact a Frost Brown Todd Labor and Employment Department attorney.

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