Employee to Carry Gun to Unsafe Worksite?
Common HR Questions
Question: Some of our employees are required to travel into areas that have high levels of crime and some have indicated that they don’t feel safe. We are worried that someone will ask to carry their registered weapon to one of these sites. Can we allow an employee to carry a gun when they travel to sites they deem unsafe?
Answer: In Pennsylvania, there is no law to stop an employer from prohibiting its employers from carrying weapons. Other states may take a stand on this, but Pennsylvania does not. In other words, PA employers can tell them they are prohibited from carrying their weapons while working. This applies regardless of whether employees are using a company vehicle or not. From a legal point of view, the risks to the employer are greater if it allows employees to carry weapons in a state like Pennsylvania.
From a legal perspective, we believe it’s a big risk for employers to condone employees’ carrying of weapons in the course of their job – and if someone were to be shot or injured, the employer risks legal action against them. Depending on the circumstances, it may be difficult to defend against a claim that results from an employee’s use of a weapon – there are inherent risks and substantial, potential liabilities.
From a non-legal perspective, the employer needs to understand that, even though we are recommending that they not permit it, there are also risks if you prohibit it. For example, it could lead to a scenario in which an employee goes into a dangerous area, is attacked, and then claims that he could have fended off the attack—had he only been carrying his own weapon. So for that reason only, employers must understand that we are saying only that it’s better from a liability avoidance perspective to prohibit this, but it’s not that the employer must prohibit it – especially as some employers may be “right to bear arms” advocates.
Based on this legal information, MEA recommends that you seek to find other alternatives to protecting your employees. You may wish to hire security for them when they travel to such locations, or you may wish to send them in groups, or pairs. You do have other options than just allowing them to carry their weapons. It may take some time to consider all your options.
*Provided by Michael Kulakowski, attorney at Powell Trachtman
MEA’s goal is to provide current, detailed and useful information to EXPERT HOTLINE callers, but our responses do not constitute legal advice about what you should or should not do in a particular situation. You should always consult legal counsel, in the context of a confidential attorney-client relationship, before taking any action that could have legal implications for you or your business. If legal services are needed, MEA members are entitled to a discounted fee arrangement with the Powell Trachtman law firm, which serves as MEA’s general counsel. For more information, contact Michael G. Trachtman at firstname.lastname@example.org.