How does Texas's new open carry law impact the workplace?
On June 13, 2015, Governor Greg Abbott signed the Open Carry Bill for Concealed Handgun Holders (or HB 910) into law. The past 20 years, individuals have been able to carry concealed handguns under Texas's Concealed Handgun Licensing (CHL) law. However, under this new law, individuals who apply for and receive a special license will be able to openly carry a holstered handgun as of January 1, 2016.
In order to received a concealed handgun license, applicants must be at least 21 years of age, pass a background check and pass tests (written and on the shooting range).
What does TX's open carry law mean in the workplace?
Under the new law, licensed persons may openly carry a handgun in places where the licensed carrying of concealed handguns are allowed. However, employers are still able to ban carrying concealed weapons in the workplace. In order for employers and private property owners to prohibit concealed firearms, certain statutory notices must be followed. Notice is very specific as to signage, font size and color and the language used. According to Texas Penal Code 30.07, notice to prohibit concealed weapons must be:
- Clearly visible and have signs posted at all property entrances
- In English and Spanish
- Font used must have block letters, one inch high and in contrasting colors
In addition, the following language must be used, "Pursuant to Section 30.07, Penal Code (trespass by license holder with an openly carried handgun), a person licensed under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code (handgun licensing law), may not enter this property with a handgun that is carried openly."
Employers and their HR departments must review company policies and make sure they are in accordance with the newly passed open carry law. In addition, employers who wish to prohibit concealed handguns by licensed employees and visitors in the workplace must make sure notice is provided that is in compliance with the criteria set out in TX Penal Code 30.07. In order to do that, employers must revise policies, distribute any changes to employees, communicate, educate and train on any policy changes and make sure proper signage is visible at all entry points to anyone who enters the premises (employees and visitors).
Employers should also note that the new open carry law takes the 2011 law, allowing employees with a concealed handgun license to keep firearms in their locked vehicles while in an employer parking lot, a step further. However, the new law does not create a cause of action for the employee against the employer for infringing on any rights to conceal and carry. Whether liabilities will be imposed on the employer due to employee gun-related injuries on the premises will remain to be seen after the law goes into effect January 1.
If you have questions about Texas's new Open Carry Bill for Concealed Handgun Holders and how it may impact your rights in the workplace, please contact an attorney at Kennard Law, P.C. to learn more. An employer may be deemed liable for certain injuries to an employee depending on the circumstances. Speak to an attorney to discuss your situation and learn more about your options.
Keywords: employment law, open carry, employee rights