SW Legal studies in Business

Banning Firearms on Company Property Not a Violation of Constitutional Rights
Description

Federal appeals court held that an employer had the right, under employment-at-will, to fire an employee who had a gun in his car in violation of clear company policy. There is no violation of public policy by the employer despite the federal and constitutional guarantees of the right to bear arms. Employers may bar firearms as a condition of employment.

Topic Employment Law
Key Words

Employment at-will, Public Policy, Right to Bear Arms

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Plona worked at a UPS facility in Ohio. He parked his car in a lot provided for UPS employees. Company policy prohibits employees from possessing firearms while on company property. The policy clearly stated that this included parking lots. Plona had signed a statement acknowledging company policy. The sheriff’s office did a K-9 search of cars in the parking lot, because UPS was concerned that an employee may have taken a package containing contraband. The dog identified Plona’s car, and it was searched. There was no contraband, but there was a pistol. Plona was fired immediately. He sued, contending that the federal and state constitutions protect the right to bear arms, so public policy prevented enforcement of the employment-at-will rule. The district court held against him. He appealed.

Decision

Affirmed. Ohio employment-at-will doctrine permits an employer to terminate an at-will employment relationship for any cause, at any time whatsoever, even if done in gross or reckless disregard of an employee’s rights. For a public policy exception to Ohio’s employment-at-will doctrine to exist, an employee must show: (1) the existence of a clear public policy manifested in a state or federal constitution, statute or administrative regulation, or in the common law; (2) that a dismissal under circumstances similar to the plaintiff’s dismissal would jeopardize the public policy; (3) that the plaintiff's dismissal was motivated by conduct related to the public policy; and (4) that the employer lacked an overriding legitimate business justification for the dismissal. An employer imposing a firearm restriction at the workplace does not violate clear public policy.

Citation Plona v. United Parcel Service, 558 F.3d 478 (6th Cir., 2009)

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