Guns in the Parking Lot: A Delicate Workplace Issue
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Guns in the Parking Lot: A Delicate Workplace Issue

Guns in the Parking Lot: A Delicate Workplace Issue

By Sara Murray

Updated Oct. 15, 2013

Across the country, employers are grappling with new laws that bring guns closer to the office.

Starbucks Corp. SBUX +0.89% made headlines recently when its chief executive asked customers to keep guns out of company cafes. His appeal thrust the company into local and nationwide debates about the role of private business and public gun laws.

Today, some 22 states have passed laws that limit property owners’ ability to ban firearms in vehicles in parking areas, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a San Francisco-based gun-control advocacy group.

Details vary by state, but under most so-called Bring Your Gun to Work laws, employers can keep firearms out of offices and factory floors, but they can’t ban weapons in the parking lot.

Some companies have taken the changes in stride, but others are rewriting their human-resources policies, training employees to detect early signs of employee aggression and considering extra security for tense situations like termination meetings. Law firms specializing in labor and employment say managers are bombarding them with questions about adapting to the new measures.

Many big employers, including FedEx Corp. FDX +1.57% , Volkswagen AG VOW.XE -1.50% , Caterpillar Inc. CAT +0.21% and Bridgestone Corp. 5108.TO -1.54% , have fought the laws, arguing that their right to maintain a safe workplace—and set the rules on their property—should trump the right to carry a gun.

“Much like a private homeowner is able to tell his guests whether they can bring a gun into his yard, FedEx should have the right to decide what it will and will not allow on its private property,” Mark Hogan, vice president of U.S. security for FedEx Express told Tennessee lawmakers last year. Tennessee considered—and eventually passed—a law allowing guns in parking lots.

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