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The Practical EmployerCommon Sense (Sort of) Prevails in Ohio Over Gun-Owner Discrimination Law

If a state is going to permit employees to store handguns in their cars on your property, what is a business to do to protect employees, customers, vendors and others?
Last week, I reported on Ohio Senate Bill 199 / Sub. House Bill 48, which would have elevated “concealed handgun licensure” to a protected class under Ohio’s employment discrimination law, on par with race, color, religion, sex, military status, national origin, disability, age and ancestry.WF_WebSite_BlogHeaders-11
My Twitter feed absolutely exploded with confusion and outrage.
I am happy to report that the Ohio Senate relented to common sense, and amended the bill to remove any reference to Ohio’s employment discrimination law and any inclusion of gun ownership as a protected class. What remains in Sub. S.B. 199 [pdf], however, is the unabridged right of concealed handgun license holders to store their firearms in their vehicles parked on the property of their employers.

2923.1210. (A) A business entity, property owner, or public or private employer may not establish, maintain, or enforce a policy or rule that prohibits or has the effect of prohibiting a person who has been issued a valid concealed handgun license from transporting or storing a firearm or ammunition when both of the following conditions are met:
(1) Each firearm and all of the ammunition remains inside the person’s privately owned motor vehicle while the person is physically present inside the motor vehicle, or each firearm and all of the ammunition is locked within the trunk, glove box, or other enclosed compartment or container within or on the person’s privately owned motor vehicle;

(2) The vehicle is in a location where it is otherwise permitted to be.

All signals point the House and Senate passing this amended bill, and Gov. John Kasich signing it into law before year’s end.

So, if Ohio law is going to permit your employees to store handguns in their cars on your property, what are you, as a business, to do to protect your business, its employees, customers, vendors and others? One option is to engage in pre-work security screenings, including posting guards, installing metal detectors, and engaging in pat-down searches. The expense, however, is cost-prohibitive for most businesses, and nevertheless it is the epitome of overkill.

A logical and more cost-effective starting point for most businesses is with an Active Shooter / Emergency Action Plan, so that your business knows how to respond in the event this evil enters your workplace.

The Department of Homeland Security published a guide [pdf] on how to respond to an active shooter. The guide instructs:

  • How to respond if an active shooter is in your vicinity (evacuate, hide, or, as a last resort, take action).
  • How to respond when law enforcement arrives.
  • How to train your staff (including implementing an Emergency Action Plan and running training exercises).
  • How HR and management should prepare for, and respond during, an active shooter event.

DHS also suggests that an effective Emergency Action Plan contains each of the following:

  • A preferred method for reporting fires and other emergencies.
  • An evacuation policy and procedure.
  • Emergency escape procedures and route assignments (i.e., floor plans, safe areas).
  • Contact information for, and responsibilities of individuals to be contacted under the EAP.
  • Information concerning local area hospitals (i.e., name, telephone number, and distance from your location).
  • An emergency notification system.

I hope this is an issue your never business never has to confront. If you must, however, never has the proverb “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” been more apt.

Jon Hyman is a partner at Meyers, Roman, Friedberg & Lewis in Cleveland. Comment below or email editors@workforce.com. Follow Hyman’s blog at Workforce.com/PracticalEmployer.

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