Effective August 1, 2013, Alabama's recent gun law creates a new dynamic for workplace safety across the State. Commonly referred to as the "Guns in the Parking Lot Act," the Act affords an employee greater rights to lawfully possess a firearm and ammunition in a privately owned vehicle while parked or operated in a public or private parking area as long as one of two conditions exist. The first condition is one in which an employee has a valid concealed weapon permit. The second condition, which is more detailed in nature, relates to the possession of a legal firearm (other than a pistol) used for hunting in Alabama provided that the employee holds a valid Alabama hunting license, the weapon is unloaded at all times on the property, it is during a season in which hunting is permitted by Alabama law or regulation, and a number of other elements are also satisfied.
Except as provided above, however, a public or private employer may still restrict or prohibit its employees from carrying firearms while on the employer's property or while engaged in the duties of employment.
Of particular note, the Act prohibits an employer from taking adverse employment action against an employee based solely on the presence of a firearm, provided that the employee is in compliance with the Act at all times. The Act specifically provides an employee with a right to recovery for any adverse employment action. If recovery, as provided in the Act, is not satisfied within 45 days, the employee may file a civil action against the employer.
The immediate effect of the Act may be significant for many employers across the State who currently operate under a workplace safety program which includes a prohibition of firearms on company property. Such policies should be carefully examined and appropriately revised in order to ensure that the business conforms to this new employee right.