- Under the Business Liability Protection Act (HB 4187), signed into law March 21, West Virginia employers may no longer prohibit legal firearms that have been locked in privately owned vehicles parked in company parking lots. The law takes effect on June 8, 2018.
- The law also prohibits employers from violating the privacy rights of employees, vendors and others by asking them about firearms in locked vehicles or searching for a firearm in a locked vehicle on the company's parking lot. Employers are also prohibited from conditioning employment based on an employee agreement not to keep a legal firearm locked inside a car parked on the company's parking lot or license to carry a concealed firearm a condition of employment.
- According to Littler, the act covers only privately owned vehicles and parking locations. Employers may still ban the carrying or concealment of firearms in vehicles they own, lease or rent and from other areas of the business, including buildings and sidewalks .The act also gives employers immunity from civil liability based on their compliance with the law. Civil penalties for noncompliance can be as much as $5,000 each, plus attorney's fees and other costs.
With the addition of West Virginia, a total of 23 states currently have laws against banning firearms in privately owned vehicles on company parking lots, according to the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM). Many employers might not realize that their own parking lots are subject to such laws or that nearly half of U.S. states have enacted them.
Employers obviously want to keep their workplaces safe and therefore have policies to lower the risk of injury or death due to gun violence. But it's equally important for organizations to know the limit of their jurisdiction as it relates to employees' ability to lawfully possess weapons under state law and federal law.