“Ask Sheila” Column

Dear Sheila:

We have a policy in place that prohibits employees from bringing guns to work. After reading the new Texas legislation on unlicensed carry that went into effect in September 2021, we are a bit confused. Is our policy still legal?

Firearm-Free Workplace

Dear Firearm-Free:

Yes, your policy is still legal. HB 1927 does not change a public or private employer’s ability to prohibit a person from carrying a gun on their premises regardless of whether that person has a license to carry. The new law did not change § 52.062(b) of the Labor Code, which establishes that a public or private employer may prohibit both an employee who holds a license to carry a handgun under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, and an employee who otherwise lawfully possesses a firearm, from possessing a firearm on the premises of the building or other work areas.

This prohibition should be reflected in your policies, and should state that it applies whether the employee is licensed or unlicensed. Don’t forget the “parking lot exception” though
(§ 52.061 of the Labor Code), which does not allow Texas employers to prohibit employees from transporting or storing legal firearms and ammunition (licensed or unlicensed) in their own locked vehicles, even if the vehicle is parked on the employer’s property. We have interpreted this “parking lot exception” to disallow firearm prohibitions in the employee’s own vehicle even when the employee uses the vehicle for the employer’s business and/or is receiving mileage reimbursement, so long as the firearm is secured and not being brandished or carried out of the vehicle while working. So your policy should reflect both the workplace prohibition and the parking lot exception.

It may be useful to reassert your workplace prohibition if there are any rumblings in your workplace about whether the weapons policy still applies after HB 1927. Please contact us if you need assistance with this or other employment policy matters.

“Ask Sheila” is prepared by Sheila Gladstone, Chair of the Firm’s Employment Law Practice Group. If you would like additional information or have questions related to this article or other employment matters, please contact Sheila at 512.322.5863 or sgladstone@lglawfirm.com.

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