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New Ohio Law Provides Limited Exception To Employer’s Right To Prohibit Firearms On Its Premises

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By Arthur W. Brumett II

March 13, 2017

On March 21, 2017, Ohio Senate Bill 199 will go into effect as Ohio Revised Code §2923.1210, which expands the rights of employees with valid concealed handgun licenses to transport and store a firearm and ammunition on an employer’s premises under certain conditions.  Employees with licenses will now be permitted to have a firearm and ammunition in a locked compartment within their motor vehicle in an employer’s parking lot, and employers will be prohibited from enforcing a policy prohibiting such lawful possession. 

Previously, Ohio law permitted employers to enforce blanket prohibitions against any weapons or dangerous ordinances on its premises, including in an employee’s personal motor vehicle.  For example, in Plona v. UPS, 558 F3d 478 (6th Cir. 2009), the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that there was no “clear public policy” in Ohio allowing concealed handgun permit holders to possess a firearm on an employer’s premises even if locked in a motor vehicle.  While Ohio Constitution, Article I, Section 4 guarantees Ohio citizens the right to bear arms for their defense and security, it does not contain a “clear public policy of allowing employees to possess firearms on the premises of their private employers.”  To the contrary, Ohio Revised Code §2923.126(C)(1) specifically provided that employers could limit their employees’ rights to bear arms on their premises.  Accordingly, employers were plainly within their rights to prohibit employees from possessing firearms on company property, including in parking areas. 

As of March 21, 2017, the Plona case will be superseded by Ohio Revised Code §2923.1210, which provides a limited exception to an employer’s right to prohibit weapons on its premises.  The new law will allow employees with valid concealed handgun licenses to possess, transport, or store a firearm and ammunition on an employer’s premises when both of the following conditions are met:

1) Each firearm and all of the ammunition must remain inside the employee’s privately owned motor vehicle while the person is physically present inside the motor vehicle, or each firearm and all of the ammunition must be locked in the trunk, glovebox, or other enclosed compartment or container within or on the person’s privately owned motor vehicle;

 AND

2) The vehicle must be in a location where it is otherwise permitted to be, such as a company parking lot.

With this limited exception, employers are still permitted to enforce a blanket prohibition against weapons in the workplace.  This exception applies to firearms and ammunition, but not other types of weapons such as knives.

Ohio employers with policies enforcing a blanket prohibition against weapons or dangerous ordinances in the workplace should review those policies to ensure compliance with this new law, while still providing for the safety of employees and other persons in the workplace.

If you have any questions regarding this law or any other employment issue, please contact a member of our Employment Practices Defense Practice Group.

This has been prepared for informational purposes only. It does not contain legal advice or legal opinion and should not be relied upon for individual situations. Nothing herein creates an attorney-client relationship between the Reader and Reminger. The information in this document is subject to change and the Reader should not rely on the statements in this document without first consulting legal counsel.

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