Small Town News
Extension System Training Alabama Employers, Employees on New 'Guns in the parking lot' Act
ALABAMA COOPERATIVE EXTENSION NEWS
Alabama Act 2013-283, commonly known as the "Guns in the Parking Lot Act," holds major implications for Alabama employers and employees alike, and they should take time to acquaint themselves fully with the new act.
With this in mind, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System is offering training via its website and YouTube channel to acquaint employers and employees with this new law. This training is accompanied by another segment titled "Seven Tips to Prevent Workplace Violence."
Extension has partnered with the Alabama Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business and Tommy Eden of the management labor law firm of Constangy, Brooks and Smith, LLP, to present this two-part webinar.
The legislation, signed into law by Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley in June, becomes effective Aug. 1,2013. The new law restricts an employer's right to prohibit the storing and transporting of weapons in locked personal vehicles - and out of plain view - in an employer's parking lot.
The law also applies to handguns of employees with pistol permits as well as hunting rifles and shotguns of employees with an Alabama Hunting License.
"With thousands of Alabama residents holding a concealed weapons permit as well as an Alabama Hunting License, this law will have significant implications within the workplace for employers and employees alike, and employers need to be thinking prevention," Eden says. "Workplace violence is a nationwide problem, and this new law gives every employer a great opportunity to put in place a workplace violence prevention policy in conformity with the new act and involve their employees to be part of the solution and not part of the problem."
Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones, who also assisted with the training, advises every employer "to seriously consider developing a liaison relationship now with local law enforcement before an issue of workplace violence ever arises."
Eden stresses that while the law prohibits employers from enacting and enforcing policies that prevent employees from transporting or storing out-of-sight firearms in their locked, private vehicles in an employer parking lot, it does not prevent an employer's policy from restricting the possession of concealed handguns on other parts of company property or while in the performance of duties on behalf of the employer.
"Employers will need to adopt a written policy and possibly a workplace violence prevention poster to make sure all employees understand their policy," Eden says.
He cautions that employers who take adverse action against employees who legally avail themselves of the advantages of this act's protection may be subject to a lawsuit.
The training, hosted by Eden along with NFIB/Alabama State Director Rosemary Elebash and Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones, is available at https://www.youtube.com/user/alcoopextensionvideo.
"While, in the view of many, the new law strongly affirms the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, it does present employers with several challenges that should be carefully sorted out before the law goes into effect in August," says Elebash.
Elebash and other trainers stress the importance of employers familiarizing themselves with all the implications of the new law so they can anticipate the kinds of workplace policies that should be put in place when the law becomes effective Aug. 1, 2013. As she stresses, the new law creates several legal nuances which employers may initially find challenging.
Section 5 of the new law creates absolute immunity for employers in the event a firearm stored in the employer parking lot is involved in a workplace incident.
With the signing of this act May 22, 2013, Alabama joins 18 other states that have passed similar "guns-at-work" or "parking-lot" laws, though the restrictions on employers' rights to regulate the storage and transportation of firearms vary from state to state.
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