Welcome to the Wild, Wild West, where Texans now can openly carry handguns with the proper licensing. While this is new to the Lone Star State, it may surprise many that Texas was one of only six states that prohibited Open Carry. Now that Texans are allowed to openly carry handguns, employers must bite the bullet and take a stance on what they will allow in their place of business.
“Employers are faced with three choices: allow employees, vendors and customers to openly carry handguns, carry only concealed handguns, or ban handguns in their entirety,” said Arthur V. Lambert, partner in the Dallas office of Fisher & Phillips. “Regardless of their decision, they must, at a minimum, clearly communicate all gun-related policies to employees.” Fisher & Phillips is a national management-side labor and employment law firm.
Below is a checklist that Lambert suggests employers use to guide them in addressing new gun laws with their employees and the workplace.
Employers’ Options in Responding to Gun Laws
- Inform employees that guns are prohibited anywhere other than in locked cars.
- Train employees on what to do if a customer, vendor or coworker is carrying a gun. It is best to limit who may confront the person to someone in management.
- Place four signs in the storefront – English and Spanish versions banning open carry and English and Spanish versions prohibiting concealed carry. The signs must meet specific legal requirements (color, size, etc.).
- Decide whether to allow Open Carry or limit it to Concealed Carry.
- Decide if employees may carry handguns and communicate your policy with them, including whether or not there are requirements to carry (e.g. provide HR with a copy of the gun license).
- Train employees on the policy, especially if your business is open to the public. Include how employees should respond and who to contact if a situation arises.
- No signage needed if allowing Open Carry. Must include two signs – one English and Spanish – if only allowing Concealed Carry.
“Businesses may be caught in the political tug of war between pro-carry and anti-carry employees and customers,” said Lambert. “However, employers must decide now what policy is best suited for their place of business.”
If employers decide to prohibit guns or only allow concealed carry, they should display the proper signage that meets the required criteria to the letter of the law, including details such as the size of the font and color of the text. In addition, Lambert advises employers to detail all gun-related policies in their employee handbooks.