Big Decisions Have To Be Made
Do you allow guns in the workplace, or do you not? Employers and HR professionals are caught in the debate and legal consequences between maintaining a safe workplace and allowing employees to possess firearms in the workplace.
The debate will continue whether allowing weapons in the workplace or not is the better policy for protection of employees and the public. Beginning January 1, 2016, open carry of handguns in Texas will be legal, in general.
Employers will still have the right, however, to restrict weapons in the workplace. But they must take specific steps to exercise that right. If an employer decides that it wants to prohibit open or concealed carry of weapons at work, it should review and revise current policies or adopt new ones as needed. They will also need to prepare and post new signs as of January 1, 2016.
Open Carry in Texas is Coming in 2016
Effective January 1, 2016, in general, licensed handgun owners in Texas may lawfully carry their handguns in an open manner as long as the handgun is secured in a shoulder or belt holster. They also still retain the option of carrying a handgun in a concealed manner if they choose.
However, it will still be illegal to carry a handgun openly in places such as, among others, high schools; collegiate and professional sporting events; correctional facilities; hospitals and nursing homes; amusement parks; churches and synagogues; government buildings; and airports. This may change soon also though. To read more about the confusing and ever changing handgun laws in Texas, see this article.
Most importantly, other Texas employers can prohibit handguns (open-carry or concealed) on most of their premises, subject to certain limitations and conditions. First, under Texas law, employees will continue to have the right to store their firearms and ammunition in a locked, privately-owned vehicle in employer parking lots. They may even leave them in open view there now.
Notices Required To Prohibit Guns In Workplace
To prohibit handguns (open-carry or concealed) in the rest of the workplace, employers must display specific, statutory notices. Employers may place the notices on cards or other documents or otherwise post signs in English and Spanish, in contrasting colors with block letters at least one inch in height, and display the signs in a conspicuous manner, clearly visible to the public at each entrance to the property. The signs have to display word for word the exact language in the statute:
For Concealed Weapons
For Open-Carry Weapons
“Pursuant to Section 30.07, Penal Code (trespass by license holder with an openly carried handgun), a person licensed under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code (handgun licensing law), may not enter this property with a handgun that is carried openly.”
Employers who wish to prohibit the open carrying of handguns should take the following steps:
- Prepare and post the statutorily required signs;
- Revise, distribute and communicate changes in these policies to employees;
- Educate and train your employees and supervisors on the changes.