Last month, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley signed Senate Bill 286, which expands Alabama gun rights. The primary expansion of those rights by SB286 is made by the provisions allowing employees to store firearms in their vehicles on their employers' premises. The law goes into effect on August 1, 2013.
Nineteen states have now passed similar laws, with varying restrictions on employers' rights to restrict firearms on company property.
The law details the types of firearms employees are permitted to keep in their locked vehicles while at work, where the employee first obtains a concealed weapons permit ("CWP"). Those firearms include pistols and long guns (shotguns or rifles). Though it cannot ask its employees if they are carrying concealed weapons in their vehicles, an employer can restrict its employees from keeping firearms in their vehicles at work if the employees don't have CWPs,don't have an Alabama hunting license, have been convicted of a violent crime, are subject to a domestic dispute restraining order, have previously been committed to a psychiatric hospital, or have documented incidents of workplace threats or violence.
The law also details the public places where citizens and employees cannot carry concealed weapons, which includes government buildings, courthouses, schools, city council chambers and county commission meetings.
It is a lengthy law, and employers are wise to study it and train their administrative and executive staff on its requirements and prohibitions. If an employer violates this law, either by asking about concealed weapons or taking adverse action against an employee solely based on the presence of a lawful firearm, the employer is subject to being sued in an Alabama court. The employee can potentially recover lost wages or other remuneration and benefits, and can reverse any demotion precipitated by the employer's conduct in violation of this law.
In contrast, employers are shielded from liability stemming from the firearms their employees are storing, which is a valuable provision for employers in light of Alabama's rank as third in the nation for gun violence.
This wide-reaching bill also amends some of Alabama's criminal statutes, including those governing "disorderly conduct," at 13A-11-7, and those prohibiting the carrying of a pistol on private property without a CWP, at 13A-11-52.