Governor Kasich has signed Senate Bill 199, which prohibits employers from creating or enforcing any policy that would limit an employee with a concealed carry license from storing a firearm in the employee’s locked vehicle while on the employer’s premises. The new law, found at O.R.C. 2923.1210 states:
A business entity, property owner, or public or private employer may not establish, maintain, or enforce a policy or rule that prohibits or has the effect of prohibiting a person who has been issued a valid concealed handgun license from transporting or storing a firearm or ammunition when both of the following conditions are met:
(1) Each firearm and all of the ammunition remains inside the person’s privately owned motor vehicle while the person is physically present inside the motor vehicle, or each firearm and all of the ammunition is locked within the trunk, glove box, or other enclosed compartment or container within or on the person’s privately owned motor vehicle;
(2) The vehicle is in a location where it is otherwise permitted to be.
Thus, so long as an employee keeps his or her firearm and ammunition in a locked compartment of the vehicle while the employee is away from the vehicle, employers may not take any action against the employee for bringing the firearm or ammunition on the employer’s property. The law takes effect on March 19, 2017.
An earlier version of the bill would have added the right to have a firearm in a car in an employer’s parking lot to the list of protected classes against which employers cannot discriminate. In other words, the right to conceal a firearm in the parking lot would have joined race, sex, age, ancestry, religion, national origin, military status and disability as a basis for which employers could not take adverse action against an employee. That language was deleted from the final version. Instead of being added to the employment discrimination law the protection for concealed firearms in parking lots became a stand-alone provision in the statute concerning concealed carry rights.
Employers should review their workplace violence and firearm policies. If those policies currently prohibit firearms in the employee’s locked personal vehicle they will have to be modified consistent with the new law before March 19, 2017. Employers are still free to prohibit employees who do not possess valid concealed carry licenses (or who are otherwise excluded from the licensing requirement) from keeping firearms in their vehicles, even if otherwise in compliance with the law. In addition, employers may still prohibit employees from carrying firearms inside company premises or bringing them out of their privately owned vehicles while on company premises.
Many business interest groups opposed this legislation because it makes access and proximity to firearms at the workplace easier.
Now that it is law in Ohio, employers are well-advised to revisit their workplace violence policies to be sure that they state clearly the prohibitions against violence or threats of violence.