Most employers know about Florida’s “Bring Gun to Work” law, even if they do not agree with it. The law, which is codified as Florida Statute Section 790.251 prevents employers (with a few exceptions) from banning firearms on their premises under certain conditions. More specifically, if the employer has an employee with a concealed weapons permit, the employer cannot prohibit any customer, employee, or invitee from possessing a firearm on the employer’s premises, so long as the firearm is lawfully possessed and locked inside a motor vehicle. The law exempts schools, correctional institutions, nuclear power plants, defense contractors, and employers involved with explosive materials.
What most employers may not know, however, is that their employee handbooks must conform to Section 790.251. Many employers have handbook policies that may prevent an employee from bringing a firearm to the workplace, often subjecting an employee to discipline or even termination for violation of the policy. While employers are free to prohibit employees from bringing a firearm inside a building or displaying it out in the open, a covered employer cannot prohibit an employee from keeping a firearm locked in his or her vehicle.
Employers should take care to ensure their handbook policies comply with the statute. Often it is a simple fix, one which will not require a wholesale revision or change of the policy. For example, revise an old policy to state “Employees are strictly prohibited from possessing firearms on XYZ Corp’s premises, except when in compliance with Section 790.251, Florida Statutes.” Adding the italicized clause keeps the policy in line with the statute, without requiring the employer to completely eliminate the ban on firearms in the workplace.